Hawaiian Pacific Folklore and Mythology


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The Penguin Book of Mermaids
Edited by Cristina Bacchilega and Marie Alohalani Brown
Series: Penguin Classics

Dive into centuries of mermaid lore with these captivating tales from around the world.

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.

Penguin Classics, Penguin Random House
368 pages

Cristina Bacchilega is a professor and the graduate program director in the Department of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her published works include Postmodern Fairy Tales: Gender and Narrative Strategies, Legendary Hawaiʻi and the Politics of Place: Tradition, Translation, and Tourism, and Fairy Tales Transformed? Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder.

Marie Alohalani Brown is an assistant professor and the undergraduate chair in the Department of Religion at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her first book, Facing the Spears of Change: The Life and Legacy of John Papa ʻIʻi, won the Palapala Po'okela Award for the best book on Hawaiian language, culture, and history.

ISBN 0143133721Binding PAPERBACK