What the Bee Knows

What the Bee Knows: Reflections on Myth, Symbol and Story, by P. L. Travers

This is a collection of about 50 articles and essays published over about a 20-year period, mostly in the 1970s and mostly in Parabola, the magazine of the Society for the Study of Myth and Tradition.  Each issue has a focus theme, and evidently Travers would take the theme and write on it in whatever way suited her fancy.

The result is pretty nice, but it would have been better for me to get it in another way.  I got the book on an ILL so I had to read it in a big gulp, and it would be much more enjoyable to read one or three selections every once in a while.  All at once, it's overwhelming and you get tired of meditations and speculations on myth.  Sometimes when you read a collection of articles that one person wrote over many years, there is too much on a few favorite themes to really be able to handle all at once; it gets repetitive.  That happened to me. 

Travers had a wide-ranging and speculative mind.  She is all over the place with these essays, on the power of myth and the importance of story.  Many of them are very enjoyable.  She says some great things about how children experience the world and how important folktales and myths are for children to help them make sense of themselves and the world.  This is a view I strongly agree with, so it was fun to read about.  She also gets sort of off into woo-woo land every so often, but hey, it was the 70s.

If you're into folklore and myth, you'll enjoy this collection.  Otherwise, not.


  1. Oh this sounds right up my alley! Sadly my library doesn't have it but they have another anthology from Parabola that I've requested. Perhaps I'll manage to ILL this one.


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