Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys....

Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys: being a Second Wonder Book. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1853. New York: Literary Classics of the United states, Inc. 1982.

Why read it? You’ll experience the storyteller’s art. You’ll hear, even though you read, once more the stories of ancient myths. You’ll be a child again at the knee of a gifted story teller. You’ll learn hundreds of details that you might never before have known about these well-known myths. You’ll re-experience the wonder and fascination of ancient times and stories. Hawthorne has created unforgettable story-telling moments. You’ll wish that your mother had told you these stories or that you had discovered Hawthorne’s version when you were young.

Sample quotes:

“Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era; and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to re-create the original myths.” p. 1310. ……….

“The Minotaur”

“She [Theseus’s mother, Aethra] could not help being sorrowful at finding him already so impatient to begin his adventures in the world.” p. 1314. ………. “Aethra [Theseus’s mother]: “When he went to be king of Athens, he [Aegeus] bade me treat you [Theseus] as a child, until you should prove yourself a man by lifting this heavy stone; that task being accomplished, you are to put on his sandals, in order to follow in your father’s footsteps, and to gird on his sword, so that you may fight giants and dragons, as King Aegeus did in his youth.” p. 1316.

“Theseus, however, was much too brave and active a young man to be willing to spend all his time in relating things which had already happened.” p. 1323. ………. “…a Minotaur, which was shaped partly like a man and partly like a bull, and was altogether such a hideous sort of creature that it is really disagreeable to think of him.” p. 1324. ………. “No peace [between Athens and Crete] could they [the Athenians] obtain, however, except on condition that they should send seven young men and seven maidens, every year to be devoured by the pet-monster of the cruel King Minos.” p. 1324.

“…and the youths and damsels dreaded lest they themselves might be destined to glut the cavernous maw of that detestable man-brute.” p. 1325. ………. “There seemed nothing else to be expected, but that, the next moment, he [the brass giant] would fetch his great club down, slam-bang, and smash the vessel into a thousand pieces, without heeding how many innocent people he might destroy; for there is seldom any mercy in a giant….” p. 1328. ………. “Minos was a stern and pitiless king…cared only to examine whether they were plump enough to satisfy the Minotaur’s appetite.” p. 1329.

Theseus: “Sitting there on thy golden throne, and in thy robes of majesty, I tell thee to thy face, King Minos, thou art a more hideous monster than the Minotaur himself.” p. 1329. ………. “Let this free-spoken youth be the Minotaur’s first morsel.” p. 1329. ………. “That Daedalus was a very cunning workman; but of all his artful contrivances, this labyrinth is the most wondrous; were we to take but a few steps from the doorway, we might wander about, all our lifetime, and never find it again.” p. 1331.

Comment: Will Theseus be eaten by the Minotaur? How will Theseus thread the labyrinth? You’ll have to read Hawthorne’s Second Wonder Book to find out.

Hawthorne goes on in the Second Wonder Book to tell the stories of “The Pygmies,” “The Dragon’s Teeth,” “Circe’s Palace,” “The Pomegranate-Seeds” and “The Golden Fleece.” RayS.

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