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About Maria Tatar
Maria Tatar teaches folklore, children's literature, and German cultural studies at Harvard University. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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World-renowned folklorist Maria Tatar reveals an astonishing but long-buried history of heroines, taking us from Cassandra and Scheherazade to Nancy Drew and Wonder Woman.
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 the 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.
Tatar challenges the canonical models of heroism in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, with their male-centric emphases on achieving glory and immortality. Finding the women missing from his account and defining their own heroic trajectories is no easy task, for Campbell created the playbook for Hollywood directors. Audiences around the world have willingly surrendered to the lure of quest narratives and charismatic heroes. Whether in the form of Frodo, Luke Skywalker, or Harry Potter, Campbell’s archetypical hero has dominated more than the box office.
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 honor rather than a mark of shame, and how their “mischief making” evidences compassion and concern. From Bluebeard’s wife to Nancy Drew, and from Jane Eyre to Janie Crawford, women have long crafted stories to broadcast offenses in the pursuit of social justice. Girls, too, have now precociously stepped up to the plate, with Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, and Starr Carter as trickster figures enacting their own forms of extrajudicial justice. Their quests may not take the traditional form of a “hero’s journey,” but they reveal the value of courage, defiance, and, above all, care.
“By turns dazzling and chilling” (Ruth Franklin), 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.
“I have used this textbook for four courses on children’s literature with enrollments of over ninety students. It is without doubt the most well organized selection of literary fairy tales and critical commentaries currently available. Students love it.”
—Lita Barrie, California State University, Los Angeles
This Norton Critical Edition includes:
· Seven different tale types: “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,”
“Bluebeard,” and “Tricksters.” These groupings include multicultural versions, literary rescriptings, and introductions and
annotations by Maria Tatar.
· Tales by Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde.
· More than fifteen critical essays exploring the various aspects of fairy tales. New to the Second Edition are interpretations by Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Max Lüthi, Lewis Hyde, Jessica Tiffin, and Hans-Jörg Uther.
· A revised and updated Selected Bibliography.
Winner • NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction)
Winner • Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award
Holiday Gift Guide Selection • Indiewire, San Francisco Chronicle, and Minneapolis Star-Tribune
These nearly 150 African American folktales animate our past and reclaim a lost cultural legacy to redefine American literature.
Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. Following in the tradition of such classics as Arthur Huff Fauset’s “Negro Folk Tales from the South” (1927), Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men (1935), and Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly (1985), acclaimed scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar assemble a groundbreaking collection of folktales, myths, and legends that revitalizes a vibrant African American past to produce the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of African American folktales ever published in American literary history. Arguing for the value of these deceptively simple stories as part of a sophisticated, complex, and heterogeneous cultural heritage, Gates and Tatar show how these remarkable stories deserve a place alongside the classic works of African American literature, and American literature more broadly.
Opening with two introductory essays and twenty seminal African tales as historical background, Gates and Tatar present nearly 150 African American stories, among them familiar Brer Rabbit classics, but also stories like “The Talking Skull” and “Witches Who Ride,” as well as out-of-print tales from the 1890s’ Southern Workman. Beginning with the figure of Anansi, the African trickster, master of improvisation—a spider who plots and weaves in scandalous ways—The Annotated African American Folktales then goes on to draw Caribbean and Creole tales into the orbit of the folkloric canon. It retrieves stories not seen since the Harlem Renaissance and brings back archival tales of “Negro folklore” that Booker T. Washington proclaimed had emanated from a “grapevine” that existed even before the American Revolution, stories brought over by slaves who had survived the Middle Passage. Furthermore, Gates and Tatar’s volume not only defines a new canon but reveals how these folktales were hijacked and misappropriated in previous incarnations, egregiously by Joel Chandler Harris, a Southern newspaperman, as well as by Walt Disney, who cannibalized and capitalized on Harris’s volumes by creating cartoon characters drawn from this African American lore.
Presenting these tales with illuminating annotations and hundreds of revelatory illustrations, The Annotated African American Folktales reminds us that stories not only move, entertain, and instruct but, more fundamentally, inspire and keep hope alive.
The Annotated African American Folktales includes:
- Introductory essays, nearly 150 African American stories, and 20 seminal African tales as historical background
- The familiar Brer Rabbit classics, as well as news-making vernacular tales from the 1890s’ Southern Workman
When Hansel and Gretel try to eat the witch's gingerbread house in the woods, are they indulging their "uncontrolled cravings" and "destructive desires" or are they simply responding normally to the hunger pangs they feel after being abandoned by their parents? Challenging Bruno Bettelheim and other critics who read fairy tales as enactments of children's untamed urges, Maria Tatar argues that it is time to stop casting the children as villians. In this provocative book she explores how adults mistreat children, focusing on adults not only as hostile characters in fairy tales themselves but also as real people who use frightening stories to discipline young listeners.
A richly entertaining and informative collection of Hans Christian Andersen's stories, annotated by one of America's leading folklore scholars.
In her most ambitious annotated work to date, Maria Tatar celebrates the stories told by Denmark's "perfect wizard" and re-envisions Hans Christian Andersen as a writer who casts his spell on both children and adults. Andersen's most beloved tales, such as "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Ugly Duckling," and "The Little Mermaid," are now joined by "The Shadow" and "Story of a Mother," mature stories that reveal his literary range and depth. Tatar captures the tales' unrivaled dramatic and visual power, showing exactly how Andersen became one of the world's ten most translated authors, along with Shakespeare, Dickens, and Marx. Lushly illustrated with more than one hundred fifty rare images, many in full color, by artists such as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen will captivate readers with annotations that explore the rich social and cultural dimensions of the nineteenth century and construct a compelling portrait of a writer whose stories still fascinate us today.
The story of the rivalry between a beautiful, innocent girl and her equally beautiful and cruel mother has been endlessly repeated and refashioned all over the world. In Switzerland you might hear about seven dwarfs who shelter a girl, only to be murdered by robbers. In Armenia a mother orders her husband to kill his daughter because the moon has declared her “the most beautiful of all.”
The Brothers Grimm gave this story the name by which we know it best, and in 1937 Walt Disney sweetened their somber version to make the first feature-length, animated fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Since then the Disney film has become our cultural touchstone—the innocent heroine, her evil stepmother, the envy that divides them, and a romantic rescue from domestic drudgery and maternal persecution. But, as every fan of the story knows, there is more to Snow White than that. The magic mirror, the poisoned apple, the catatonic sleep, and the strange scene of revivification are important elements in the phantasmagoria of the Snow White universe.
Maria Tatar, an acclaimed folklorist and translator, brings to life a global melodrama of mother-daughter rivalries that play out across countries and cultures.
Nearly every culture tells the story of Beauty and the Beast in one fashion or another. From Cupid and Psyche to India’s Snake Bride to South Africa’s “Story of Five Heads,” the partnering of beasts and beauties, of humans and animals in all their variety—cats, dogs, frogs, goats, lizards, bears, tortoises, monkeys, cranes, warthogs—has beguiled us for thousands of years, mapping the cultural contradictions that riddle every romantic relationship.
In this fascinating volume, preeminent fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar brings together tales from ancient times to the present and from a wide variety of cultures, highlighting the continuities and the range of themes in a fairy tale that has been used both to keep young women in their place and to encourage them to rebel, and that has entertained adults and children alike. With fresh commentary, she shows us what animals and monsters, both male and female, tell us about ourselves, and about the transformative power of empathy.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Move over, Cinderella: Make way for the Turnip Princess! And for the “Cinderfellas” in these stories, which turn our understanding of gender in fairy tales on its head.
With this volume, the holy trinity of fairy tales—the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen—becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth's work was lost—until a few years ago, when thirty boxes of manuscripts were uncovered in a German municipal archive. Now, for the first time, Schönwerth's lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, these more than seventy stories bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Highly illuminating for parents, vital for students and book lovers alike, Enchanted Hunters transforms our understanding of why children should read.
Ever wondered why little children love listening to stories, why older ones get lost in certain books? In this enthralling work, Maria Tatar challenges many of our assumptions about childhood reading. Much as our culture pays lip service to the importance of literature, we rarely examine the creative and cognitive benefits of reading from infancy through adolescence. By exploring how beauty and horror operated in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, and many other narratives, Tatar provides a delightful work for parents, teachers, and general readers, not just examining how and what children read but also showing through vivid examples how literature transports and transforms children with its intoxicating, captivating, and occasionally terrifying energy. In the tradition of Bruno Bettelheim’s landmark The Uses of Enchantment, Tatar’s book is not only a compelling journey into the world of childhood but a trip back for adult readers as well.
In a book that confronts our society's obsession with sexual violence, Maria Tatar seeks the meaning behind one of the most disturbing images of twentieth-century Western culture: the violated female corpse. This image is so prevalent in painting, literature, film, and, most recently, in mass media, that we rarely question what is at stake in its representation. Tatar, however, challenges us to consider what is taking place--both artistically and socially--in the construction and circulation of scenes depicting sexual murder. In examining images of sexual murder (Lustmord), she produces a riveting study of how art and murder have intersected in the sexual politics of culture from Weimar Germany to the present.
Tatar focuses attention on the politically turbulent Weimar Republic, often viewed as the birthplace of a transgressive avant-garde modernism, where representations of female sexual mutilation abound. Here a revealing episode in the gender politics of cultural production unfolds as male artists and writers, working in a society consumed by fear of outside threats, envision women as enemies that can be contained and mastered through transcendent artistic expression. Not only does Tatar show that male artists openly identified with real-life sexual murderers--George Grosz posed as Jack the Ripper in a photograph where his model and future wife was the target of his knife--but she also reveals the ways in which victims were disavowed and erased.
Tatar first analyzes actual cases of sexual murder that aroused wide public interest in Weimar Germany. She then considers how the representation of murdered women in visual and literary works functions as a strategy for managing social and sexual anxieties, and shows how violence against women can be linked to the war trauma, to urban pathologies, and to the politics of cultural production and biological reproduction.
In exploring the complex relationship between victim and agent in cases of sexual murder, Tatar explains how the roles came to be destabilized and reversed, turning the perpetrator of criminal deeds into a defenseless victim of seductive evil. Throughout the West today, the creation of similar ideological constructions still occurs in societies that have only recently begun to validate the voices of its victims. Maria Tatar's book opens up an important discussion for readers seeking to understand the forces behind sexual violence and its portrayal in the cultural media throughout this century.
Forty of the most famous and celebrated stories from the Brothers Grimm translated and edited by a leading professor of folklore.
Even after two hundred years, the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm remain among our most powerful stories. Their scenes of unsparing savagery and jaw-dropping beauty remind us that fairy tales, in all their simplicity, have the power to change us. With some of the most famous stories in world literature, including “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” as well as some less well known stories like “The Seven Ravens,” this definitive collection promises to entrance readers with the strange and wonderful world of the Brothers Grimm.
Maria Tatar’s engaging preface provides readers with the historical and cultural context to understand what these stories meant and their contemporary resonance. Fans of all ages will be drawn to this elegant and accessible collection of stories that have cast their magical spell over children and adults alike for generations.