Hermes the Thief: The Evolution of a Myth
Norman Oliver Brown (1913-2002) was an American intellectual of wide ranging interests, graduating from Oxford with an MA and from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a Ph.D. in the Classics. During World War II, Brown worked for the OSS as a specialist on French culture and later became Professor of Classics at Wesleyan University. In the late 1960s, he moved on to the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he was named Professor of Humanities. His initial work in classics betrayed a Marxist bent (his commentary to Hesiod's Theogony and his first monograph, Hermes the Thief). Following his disenchantment with real politics in the wake of the 1948 presidential election, Brown turned to a deep study of the works of Freud, which culminated in his classic 1959 study Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History. During his long residence at Santa Cruz, his interests broadened to include James Joyce, classical poetry and mythology, and a deep study of Islam. Many of his later writings were collected in the anthology Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis.
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