(excerpt from the Book's Preface)
IN publishing this somewhat rambling and unsystematic series of papers, in which I have endeavoured to touch briefly upon a great many of the most important points... More > in the study of mythology, I think it right to observe that, in order to avoid confusing the reader with intricate discussions, I have sometimes cut the matter short, expressing myself with dogmatic definiteness where a sceptical vagueness might perhaps have seemed more becoming. In treating of popular legends and superstitions, the paths of inquiry are circuitous enough, and seldom can we reach a satisfactory conclusion until we have travelled all the way around Robin Hood’s barn and back again.< Less
John Fiske was born Edmund Fiske Green at Hartford, Connecticut, March 30, 1842. He was the only child of Edmund Brewster Green, of Smyrna, Delaware, and Mary Fiske Bound, of Middletown, Connecticut.... More > His father was editor of newspapers in Hartford, New York City, and Panama, where he died in 1852, and his widow married Edwin W. Stoughton, of New York, in 1855. On the second marriage of his mother, Edmund Fiske Green assumed the name of his maternal great-grandfather, John Fiske.
As a child, Fiske exhibited remarkable precocity. He lived at Middletown during childhood, until he entered Harvard. He graduated from Harvard College in 1863 and from Harvard Law School in 1865. He had already admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1864, but never practised law. His career as author began in 1861, with an article on “Mr. Buckle's Fallacies” published in the National Quarterly Review. After that, he was a frequent contributor to American and British periodicals.< Less