ISBN-13: 978-1-9108-8704-2
ISBN-10: 1-9108-8704-8
Language: English

Translating Myth

Chapter: The Power of Narrative: Hawthorne’s A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys

Contributor: Jessica Allen Hanssen

Editors: Ben Pestell, Pietra Palazzolo and Leon Burnett

Publisher: Routledge

Year: 2016

Book Description: Ever since Odysseus heard tales of his own exploits being retold among strangers, audiences and readers have been alive to the complications and questions arising from the translation of myth. How are myths taken and carried over into new languages, new civilizations, or new media? An international group of scholars is gathered in this volume to present diverse but connected case studies which address the artistic and political implications of the changing condition of myth – this most primal and malleable of forms. ‘Translation’ is treated broadly to encompass not only literary translation, but also the transfer of myth across cultures and epochs. In an age when the spiritual world is in crisis, Translating Myth constitutes a timely exploration of myth’s endurance, and represents a consolidation of the status of myth studies as a discipline in its own right.

Chapter Description: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 text, A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys, takes the development of a distinctly American mythology, one which Washington Irving began to shape with American fairy tales like ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’, beyond Irving’s old world European inspiration, to a much older world, that of Mount Olympus and its immortal inhabitants. While the premise of the collection seems straightforward enough — a collection of classical Greek myths adapted to suit the romantic and fanciful tastes of nineteenth-century American children, and set in the rugged New England landscape of Hawthorne’s time — one sees upon examination that the tales question and redefine pre-existing roles surrounding the act of artistic creation. At the same time as Hawthorne perpetuates the life of classical Greek mythology, he also creates something tangible and new, an idea that f lies sharply in the face of a restrictive view of mythology in which all of the stories worth telling have already been told.

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