Mythical Trickster Figures: Contours, Contexts, and Criticisms
Mythical Trickster Figures is the first substantial collection of essays about the trickster figure since Paul Radin's influential 1955 publication of The Trickster. Contributions by leading scholars treat a wide range of manifestations of this mischievous character, ranging from the Coyote of the American Southwest to such African figures as Eshu-Elegba and Ananse, the Japanese Susa-no-o, the Greek Hermes, Christian adaptations of Saint Peter, and examples found in contemporary American fiction and drama.
Original essays by authors known for their work on trickster figures provide resources for comprehending the nature of the phenomenon and challenge some previous interpretations. The contributors include T.O. Beidelman, Anne Doueihi, Robert S. Ellwood, Laura Makarius, Robert D. Pelton, Mac Linscott Ricketts, Thomas J. Steele, S.J., Christopher Vecsey, as well as the editors. Several contributors deconstruct earlier comparativist works in favor of culture-specific analysis and provide for a grasp of the transcultural qualities of the trickster myths and figures that appear in the local mythologies of different societies.
The many humorous trickster stories included are fascinating in themselves, and Hynes and Doty highlight the wide range of features of the trickster - the figure whose comic appearance often signifies that the most serious cultural values are being both challenged and enforced. Mythical Trickster Figures moves away from earlier studies that considered the figure merely "primitive" or located in the basement of the human psyche suggesting instead that the spirit of metaplay is crucial to human and social maturation.
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