on April 10, 2000
Watt examines four famous characters from Western literature who have been reincarnated numerous times: Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan, and Robinson Crusoe. He treats each individually in the first half of the book, and makes comparisions and discusses recent reworkings in the second half. The depth and breadth of Watt's knowledge of his four myths is readily apparent. Still, though, it's an easy read, intended perhaps for the non-expert. Even if you haven't read the original works yourself, it's easy to follow. The book hints at provocative issues in the creation and meaning of myth as well as "individualism," though Watt's theoretical musings aren't as rewarding or complete as his close analysis of the four figures. The work of history and translation on the transformation of myth is a fascinating subject, but Watt's book suggests far more questions than it answers.