The Heroine with 1,001 Faces
The Heroine with 1,001 Faces dismantles the cult of warrior heroes, revealing a secret history of heroinism at the very heart of our collective cultural imagination. Maria Tatar, a leading authority on fairy tales and folklore, explores how heroines, rarely wielding a sword and often deprived of a pen, have flown beneath the radar even as they have been bent on redemptive missions. Deploying domestic crafts and using words as weapons, they have found ways to survive assaults and rescue others from harm, all while repairing the fraying edges in the fabric of their social worlds. Like the tongueless Philomela, who spins the tale of her rape into a tapestry, or Arachne, who portrays the misdeeds of the gods, they have discovered instruments for securing fairness in the storytelling circles where so-called women’s work-spinning, mending and weaving-is carried out.
In a broad-ranging volume that moves with ease from the local to the global, Tatar demonstrates how our new heroines wear their curiosity as a badge of honour rather than a mark of shame and how their “mischief making” evidences compassion and concern.
The Heroine with 1,001 Faces creates a luminous arc that takes us from ancient times to the present day. It casts an unusually wide net, expanding the canon and thinking capaciously in global terms, breaking down the boundaries of genre and displaying a sovereign command of cultural context. This, then, is a historic volume that informs our present and its newfound investment in empathy and social justice like no other work of recent cultural history.
"She is stirring what J.R.R. Tolkien once called the 'cauldron of story' in search of the girls and women, some silenced and some forgotten, some from the Iliad and some from Netflix, who live in Campbell's blind spot. The reader jumps from Arachne's battle with Athena to the escape of Bluebeard's trickster wife to Pippi Longstocking and Nancy Drew and even to Carrie Bradshaw typing away on her laptop." -- Gal Beckerman - New York Times Book Review
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