Responses to KENNETH BURKE ON MYTH (2005)

Please note that Kenneth Burke on Myth has since been revised as Kenneth Burke: From Myth to Ecology: see separate entry.

In his review for the KB Journal Daniel Smith writes:

Following his introductory remarks, Coupe performs a virtuoso reading of Burke that spans five chapters. … One of the most intriguing parts of this final chapter is Coupe’s suggestion—one carried over into the book’s conclusion—that Burke himself can be considered a mythmaker, and that the rhetorical re-iteration and performance of myth can be a viable form of transformative social action. Coupe’s Burke-inspired ideas about the transformative potentials of myth embraces the para-religious dimensions of Burke’s thought, something avoided by many Burkeans. He doesn’t describe it as such, but Coupe extracts from Burke’s corpus what might be called a comic religiosity, which is quite open to learning from Eastern and Western religious and spiritual traditions but at the same time makes it quite difficult for its ‘followers’ to be self-righteousness or dogmatic. Whatever readers of Coupe’s book may think of the content of its argument—and there is substantial content to engage—it is difficult to deny that Coupe’s project performs for us something all too rare in Burke scholarship: the embodiment of Burke’s ‘impious’ and comically religious spirit. And this, finally, is what makes Kenneth Burke on Myth a must-read.

Susan Rowland in her review for Harvest: International Journal for Jungian Studies writes:

Coupe’s book is a wonderfully lucid introduction to a now neglected thinker. In showing the importance of Burke to the modern world, he also demonstrates why we need to look again at those thinkers who, like Jung, offer a re-evaluation of the religious impulse in man. It matters to this century even more than to the last.