Max Muller is often referred to as the "father of religious studies", having himself coined the term "science of religion" (or religionswissenschaft) in 1873. It was he who encouraged the comparative study of myth and ritual, and it was he who introduced the oft quoted dictum: "He who knows one (religion), knows none". Though a German born and German educated philologist, he spent the greater part of his career at Oxford, becoming one of the most famous of the Victorian armchair scholars. His 1856 essay on "Comparative Mythology", for instance, influenced a generation of British folklorists. Not surprisingly, for nearly half a century, from 1856 until his death in 1900, Muller was in great demand both as an essayist and as a lecturer in academic settings. In 1878, he delivered the inaugural Hibbert Lectures and was twice invited to deliver the Gifford Lectures (in 1890 and 1891). Muller also wrote extensively on Indian philosophy and Vedic religion, translated major sections of the Vedas, the Upanisads, and all of the Dhammapada, yet never visited India.To be sure, his work bears the stamp of late 19th century sensibilities, but as artifacts of Victorian era scholarship, Muller's essays are helpful in reconstructing and comprehending the intellectual concerns of this highly enlightened though highly imperialistic age. As influential as Muller had been to the young fields of anthropology, linguistics, folklore, and comparative religions, his essays and addresses have remained unavailable to the modern scholars or to students of 19th century intellectual history. The publication of this collection of Muller's best known essays, though long overdue, brings Muller back to life, and brings needed historical depth to the continuing theoretical and methodological debates in the academic study of religion.
The Essential Max Muller by F. Max Muller was published by St Martin's Press in May 2003 and is our 63502nd best seller. The ISBN for The Essential Max Muller is 9780312293093.