The Heroine with 1001 Faces

Liveright. Sept. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781631498817. $30. LIT
Stories secure women’s voices against fragmentation, slander, and disbelief and can disrupt and change prevailing discourse, argues folklorist Tatar (Harvard Univ.; The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales). Her feminist literary analysis surveys the craft and traditions that enable stories’ longevity, and ties them to contemporary efforts to amplify voices through modern narratives and the Me Too movement. More than a rebuttal to Joseph Campbell’s seminal text The Hero with A Thousand Faces, Tatar’s book offers the infinite experiences of women; its title recalls Scheherazade’s 1001, a number for endless enumeration and feminine resilience. Engaging with the works of Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton, and many others, Tatar explores the historical and textual difficulties of having a voice. She offers a condensed study in the language of those marginalized by gender and colonialism; although they’ve been devaluated as gossip and limited to the domestic sphere, women’s stories persist. Tatar brings to the surface the overlooked tales of women who endure, spanning Greek myth and box office franchises. Illustrations of fairytales offer insight into their evolution throughout the centuries.
VERDICT A necessary and compelling read for scholars, activists, and storytellers interested in inclusive revisions to the hero’s canon.
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