The Penguin Book of Mermaids
Cristina Bacchilega, Marie Alohalani Brown
A unique anthology of mermaid tales from around the world, many of which have never appeared in English before
Among the oldest and most popular mythical beings, mermaids and other merfolk have captured the imagination since long before Ariel sold her voice to a sea witch in the beloved Disney film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. As far back as the eighth century B.C., sailors in Homer’s Odyssey stuffed wax in their ears to resist the Sirens, who lured men to their watery deaths with song. More than two thousand years later, the gullible New York public lined up to witness a mummified ‘mermaid’ specimen that the enterprising showman P. T. Barnum swore was real.
The Penguin Book of Mermaids is a treasury of such tales about merfolk and water spirits from different cultures, ranging from Scottish selkies to Hindu water-serpents to Chilean sea fairies. A third of the selections are published here in English for the first time, and all are accompanied by commentary that explores their undercurrents, showing us how public perceptions of this popular mythical hybrid – at once a human and a fish – illuminate issues of gender, spirituality, ecology and sexuality.
Superb: the first substantial anthology of mermaid stories. Nobody knows what mermaids are, but there is great enjoyment in reading tales that make us believe in them. They are alluring, demonic, vengeful, innocent, hypnotic, enchanting, and divine, and you can find all of them and more in The Penguin Book of Mermaids -- Jack Zipes Notable for its wide scope, both in terms of region and time period ... We still crave supernatural creatures. The Penguin Book of Mermaids definitely satisfies that craving, drawing us into their narrative depths with alluring promises * Los Angeles Review of Books * Accessible yet rigorous, passionately diverse, and thoroughly spellbinding . . . Many-voiced, irresistible, and essential . . . [with] insightful story notes, generous attributions, and tantalizing bibliography. The desires and dangers of the shape-changing sea have rarely been so intelligently and inclusively showcased * Publishers Weekly * Tapping into the seductive sorcery of mermaid lore, The Penguin Book of Mermaids reminds us why these aquatic beings-who awaken both dread and desire-continue to attract our attention -- Maria Tatar, Harvard University
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