DR. RAMSAY SMITH classifies the myths and legends of the Australian aborigines which he has collected in this volume into ‘origins’, that is, stories of the creation and beginnings of things; animal myths; religious, social, and personal myths; and has strung them together in the form of a con-nected narrative by notes on customs and beliefs cognate to each class. These notes give the un-instructed reader a general view of aboriginal culture as a background for the stories. Dr. Ramsay Smith is fully alive to the importance of aboriginal legendary lore in its bearing upon their institutions, and it is therefore surprising to find that, even though he disclaims any intention of giving a scientific exposition of Australian mythology, there is no indication of where and when the material was collected. Except in one or two cases, the name of the tribe in which the myth occurred is not mentioned. All that we are told is that the myths refer to “only a few localities in Australia and only a few tribes in them”. As the stories, which are very much ‘written up’, bear very directly upon problems of aboriginal belief, this is a grave defect all the more, perhaps, because the book is intended to be popular.
Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals.
. Pp. 356 + 38 plates. (London, Bombay and Sydney: George G. Harrap and Co., Ltd., 1930.)2ls. net.
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Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals . Nature 127, 161 (1931). https://doi.org/10.1038/127161b0