Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art” as Want to Read:
Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Trickster Makes This World solidifies Lewis Hyde's reputation as, in Robert Bly's words, "the most subtle, thorough, and brilliant mythologist we now have." In it, Hyde now brings to life the playful and disruptive side of human imagination as it is embodied in trickster mythology. He first revisits the old stories--Hermes in Greece, Eshu in West Africa, Krishna in India, ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 16th 1999 by North Point Press (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Trickster Makes This World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Trickster Makes This World

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the sorta book you always wish you were able to write. It's thick, learned, full of digressions and personal asides, and the dude even translates the Homeric Hymn to Hermes (say it fast, I dare ya) out of Greek himself. I doubt it's for everyone. The pace can be a tad pokey; I recommend reading a chapter at a time and then setting the tome aside for a bit. Also, I suspect some of the personal stories can come off as self-indulgent. And let's face it, Hyde is an academic, though this book ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
If Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon haven't read this book and borrowed concepts liberally, then they are operating in a parallel universe, mining the same sources. It's a rich and deep vein.

Hyde rambles through the many ways Trickster figures influence human thought and action. The idea of the disruptive as necessary, even sacred, to life, has wide distribution. "...the origins, liveliness, and durability of cultures require that there be space for figures whose function is to uncover and disrupt
Anna L  Conti
The power of this book, for artists, is the overwhelming evidence of our descent from a being more than human, less than divine - one who inhabits the crossroads, crosses boundaries, works the joints, sees more and risks all.
Richard Newton
I find it hard to categorise this book. It certainly is not quite what i expected it to be. Highly intellectual - a cross between analysing folk stories, philosophy of art and creativity - all around the concept of the trickster. I also can't work out if it is profound or merely very clever. But it's certainly interesting.

From the start of the book it jumps into intellectual deep waters, there is no gentle introduction. Don't take the cover blurb about modern creators/artists too seriously. The
Akemi G
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
Hermes was born in the morning, and by the evening, he was hungry for steak. (Such is the growth of god, you know.) So he sneaks out the house and steals the cows that belong to Apollo (his half brother).

Even though Hermes uses various tricks to cover up his crime, like forcing the cows to walk backwards, Apollo figures it out soon enough and storms to the cave Hermes lives with his mother. He demands Hermes to return the cows, or he'd send him to the underworld. (In other words, he'd kill him.
Claudia Zwarg
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very slow read not because it bored me but because it freaked me out. Had to take a break in between chapters... Powerful, good stuff.

"They're all the same, these tricksters; they have no shame and so they have no silence." (p. 153)

Larouê! Exú
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I enjoy reading about mythology, I think, because I find myths to be resonant, but it's often hard to put my finger on why they seem so significant. In Trickster Makes This World, Hyde examines tricksters from various cultures (Raven, Coyote, Hermes, Krishna, Eshu) and talks about the ways that these figures signify a certain attitude toward life. For Hyde, tricksters embody the ability to act with cunning, turn accidents into opportunities, and subvert those assumptions that are so ingrained th ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is good for two reasons: 1. It makes anthropolgy super-interesting by giving raunchy examples of devious (and entertaining) beings; Tricksters 2. It exposed me to the idea of guilt and shame cultures, which every educated person should know about - but somehow I went to college for 9 years and never heard of it.

This book is written by a man who was head of creative writing at Harvard, so if you don't have 50k a year to spend on school, this is the next best thing.

May 22, 2017 added it
"The eternals are vulnerable at their jonts. To kill a god or an ideal, go for the joints."
"Before a body can come to life, every separation, every boundary, must be breached in some way; each organ must have its pores and gateways through which something (lymph, blood, bile, urine, electricity, neurotransmitters) may flow. Unless they can incorporate internal forces of transgression, organic structures are in danger of dying from their own articulation."
"When human culture turns against human b
Thomaz Amancio
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
É meu tipo de livro: um compêndio cultural de visão ampla cheio de análises reveladoras. A quarta parte é um pouco repetitiva, e o livro acaba girando em falso - o que é uma pena, considerando a pertinência de tudo que veio antes. Mas a intensidade das imagens e dos argumentos mais do que compensa as inconsistências formais, e oferece todo um vocabulário para pensar as relações de poder, a formação da identidade e o trabalho criativo. É claro que a amplitude de visão prejudica a profundidade e a ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Hyde's interpretive framework for trickster mythology is structured more or less as follows:

Gods & Heaven = societal hegemony / capitalists / wealthy 1% / status quo
Trickster = liminal, generative force (culture / ideology) disruptive to status quo
Humans & Earth = subaltern / marginalized / labor / 99% / beneficiaries of trickster mediation

It's a simple, serviceable analytical rubric applied toward some decent comparative mythology ('trickster genealogy') whereby he establishes elements
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Trickster Makes This World starts great, spinning out some of the implications of various Trickster myths, and linking the Trickster archetype to a whole range of folk stories: Coyote, Hermes, Loki, Prometheus, and eventually, Alan Ginsberg, Frederick Douglass, Krishna, and many others. Hyde draws out the subtleties of Trickster's methods and effects, and it makes for entertaining and thought-provoking reading. Unfortunately, the basic messages of transgression, boundary-crossing, marginalizatio ...more
Amanda (Amy) Goode
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Trickster Makes This World came to me by way of Emily Levine's TED talk: back in February 2013. I was particularly interested in the notion that "trickster" is a boundary crosser by nature. I read aloud from the book on our travels to and from Little Rock, Arkansas in March 2013- a trip which ended with my husband being fired by the company he had worked for since 1992. Now referred to as the "great upheaval" this was the culminating event of a 3 year per ...more
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the hardcover edition. Great text about how to circumnavigate traps of culture.

And at his mother’s home, Hermes…
slipped sideways through the keyhole,
like fog on an autumn breeze.

The trickster is a boundary-crosser, or brings to the surface a distinction previously hidden from sight. Trickster is the god of the threshold in all its forms.

Chance the rap and slip the trap

poem by ishmael reed about ralph ellison
i am outside of
history. i wish
i had some peanuts; it
looks hungry there in
its cag
Andrew Bourne
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Overall: Clunky. Watered-down. But with a fair amount of interesting material insofar as it is quoted and paraphrased (as opposed to generated by Mr. Hyde himself).

The text sketches out some luke warm versions of altogether dropdead wonderful myths, each choicecut from around the globe. Legba, Argus, Coyote, etc. But Mr. Hyde is too present in both page count and interpretation for my liking. I want above all else to fantasize and weigh the various implications myself. He is a handholder and an
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a very analytical view of trickster mythology, although I think this is a good thing, because the themes that emerge give a fuller picture of what tricksters are about.
For example, tricksters are obsessed with traps: setting them and escaping them. Just like they're attracted to gates.
There's some application of the trickster mythology to real life people like Frederick Douglass, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Marcel Duchamp (sp?). The real-life figures never seem to match up to the legends
I found the first half more interesting and compelling then the second half of modern tricksters. Does didn't land with me as well, but I'm also probably a little sensitive to the deification of men right now. (Likely why it took me so long to get through this)

Really interesting text, and it's interesting to get background for some of the thinking of writers whose work I enjoy who have spoken admiringly of the text, like Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon.
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
By far my favorite non-fiction book. The power of the book lies in its ability to explain the enduring presence of trickster myths across a number of different cultures by connecting tricksters with the impulse of artistic creation. By relating tricksters to real-life artists, Hyde demonstrates the relevance of ancient myths to the modern world. The book is elegantly written, compelling, and a pleasure to read. I was awestruck the first time I read it.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Another great book by Lewis Hyde. It's not as exciting as The Gift - but an interesting look at the "trickster" in native cultures and in contemporary life. It appealed to me as a look at the socio-cultural history of people who are Machiavellian types, manipulators, and behind the scenes puppet masters. I think W and Cheney are modern day tricksters.
John Isaacson
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this before I started joe Campbell's hero with a thousand faces so it blew my mind. Hyde cites multiple examples of trickster characters in different cultures, discusses the social function of tricksters (keep societies flexible and able to adapt), and shows how artists serve a trickster role in society.
Matthew Richey
Some parts I liked more than others, but a very fun, engaging, enlightening, and interesting read. I may say more later.
Austin Kleon
Jan 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Not near as good as THE GIFT, but worth reading.
Claudia Fantucchio
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Questo libro dimostra chiaramente come l'intuizione personale (quella facoltà che in modo un po' romantico potremmo chiamare creatività) possa avere tanto ruolo in un saggio quanto in un romanzo. Per certi versi, infatti, l'idea stessa di trickster influenza la struttura dell'opera, il suo andamento, gli esempi, i momenti di autobiografismo, le citazioni, l'organizzazione. Ci si ritrova a scivolare fra mitologie differenti, paragoni fra esse, vicende di artisti, biografie, sempre alla ricerca di ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
"He is the spirit of the doorway leading out, and of the crossroad at the edge of town..." (p.6)

"In short, trickster is a boundary-crosser. Every group has its edge, its sense of in and out, and trickster is always there, at the gates of the city and the gates of life, making sure there is commerce...trickster is the creative idiot, therefore, the wise fool, the gray-haired baby, the cross-dresser, the speaker of sacred profanities.....trickster is the mythic embodiment of ambiguity and ambivale
Matt Sautman
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World is a fascinating investigation into the Trickster archetype within the context of world mythology, art, and to a minor extent, history. Much of the book is artfully written, but it can come off at times at trying to go into too many directions at once or overly repetitive regarding some ideas. Hyde places the Trickster at the borders of culture and society and relays the figure as a transgressor able to escape the influence of social mores that binds other ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the bored, which is not an insult
Comparative mythology tends to come off as bunk to me, and recalls the days of the English professor who tried eagerly to spoonfeed The Hero with a Thousand Faces to us -- but wow, if Trickster Makes This World is bunk, it's delightful bunk. Lovely, bewitching bunk. I could just burrow in so many of its sentences. And really, it's informative, if you take this kind of thing with a grain of salt; cleverly, annoyingly, I think it kind of encourages a grain of salt.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating food for thought - I will be returning to this one often. This is the sort of book I wish I could write. What Hyde describes is more than mythological stereotype or literary motif but a way of living, light-footed and fluid, that inspires one to find the trickster in themselves.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book
A through analysis of how trickster behave and the ideology behind their act
Amazed the kind of knowledge he could able to display throughout the book
Enjoyed the journey
Wade Fox
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, interesting book. The rate book on mythology that made me think repeatedly of events in the world today.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hyde is a freewheeling scholar and thinker. He collects trickster myths from various cultures—Native American, African, Greek, Norse, Chinese—and compares them to the work and art of Carl Jung, John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Frederick Douglas, Allen Ginsberg, Maxine Kingston, to name a few. He can be very personable, relating his dream or a hitchhiking story, and very erudite, geeking out on the paradoxes of lies and truth, the sacred and the profane, appetite and immortality, cunning and chance, to ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Off with their heads!: fairy tales and the culture of childhood
  • Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self
  • American Indian Trickster Tales
  • The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology
  • Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2,500 Deities of the World
  • Patterns in Comparative Religion
  • The Interpretation of Fairy Tales
  • Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion
  • Dionysus: Myth and Cult
  • On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears
  • The History of Hell
  • At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things
  • On Conan Doyle
  • The Oxford Companion to World Mythology
  • Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture
  • The Psychology of Creative Writing
  • Swedish Folktales and Legends
  • Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale

Nonfiction Deals

  • Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sometimes You Win--Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future Is Selling Less of More
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Merlin's Tour of the Universe
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America
    $7.99 $1.99
  • At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself
    $11.99 $1.99
“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humor; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one's way anew from the materials at hand.” 13 likes
“There is no way to suppress change…not even in heaven; there is only a choice between a way of living which allows constant, if gradual alterations and a way of living that combines great control and cataclysmic upheavals. Those who panic and bind the trickster choose the latter path. It would be better to learn to play with him, better especially to develop skills (cultural, spiritual, artistic) that allow some commerce with accident, and some acceptance of the changes that contingency will always engender.” 0 likes
More quotes…