Handsome Heroines: Women As Men in Folklore

Overview

Handsome Heroines is a dashing collection of stories based on classic folktales from around the world with one thing in common: all of the protagonists are women who masquerade as men. They dress like men for various reasons - to save king, country, kin, and their own lives or to get revenge, love, and power. Sometimes they just do it for fun. After receiving recognition for their achievements as men, they reveal their true gender, shattering the myth of the helpless female and thereby transforming their status ...
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Overview

Handsome Heroines is a dashing collection of stories based on classic folktales from around the world with one thing in common: all of the protagonists are women who masquerade as men. They dress like men for various reasons - to save king, country, kin, and their own lives or to get revenge, love, and power. Sometimes they just do it for fun. After receiving recognition for their achievements as men, they reveal their true gender, shattering the myth of the helpless female and thereby transforming their status as women forever.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Intrigued since girlhood by the tale "of a blacksmith's daughter who married a reckless young king, then dressed herself as a man to rescue him from a wicked princess" Shahrukh Husain, a practicing psychotherapist, spent years searching for more such stories in folk and fairytale collections and from storytellers. Handsome Heroines: Women as Men in Folklore is the culmination of her quest. She says that in these stories, "women who dressed as men therefore expressed a valid female fantasybreaking away from the bondage of gender. For a woman, putting away her female garb was as much about putting away the persona that came with it." (Anchor, $12.95 ISBN 0-385-48405-4)
Library Journal
Husain, a folklorist and psychotherapist, has gathered here a limited selection of 12 stories based on traditional folktales featuring women dressed and conducting their lives as men. The motivation for this deceptive cross-dressing is varied: love, revenge, patriotism, power, and variations on shattering the myth of the helpless female. All the selections have been transcribed from previously published works (many of them ancient) from around the world and are representative of enduring themes. For example, the Russian King Barakat, meets a comely youth out hunting and keeps inviting him to dinner because he thinks the youth is a woman, and a wildly jealous husband in Italy dresses his wife as a man and takes her with him everywhere. In retelling, the structure, content, and spirit of the originals are preserved. The achievements of these enchanting heroines as men are intriguing, but the tales are rendered awkwardly, often in an uninspired, pedestrian style. Only for exhaustive folktale and literature collections.Richard K. Burns, Hatboro, Pa.
School Library Journal
YAThis captivating collection of 12 folktales from Arab, Asian, and European cultures will appeal to YAs looking for stories with clever female characters and intriguing plots. In these tales, skills and abilities can only be tapped when women dress as men. Disguising themselves brings acceptance, freedom of movement, and the opportunity to use innate talents to meet challenges of all kinds, many only found in folklore. The reasons for cross-dressing vary with each talefrom saving one's true love, to rescuing a parent from imprisonment or a kingdom from defeat, to teaching a lesson to a male rival. Revealing one's true gender usually occurs at the end of each tale, causing some additional confusion when the tale involves a disguised woman promised in marriage to a princess. While lesbian love is suggested in a couple of the tales, the stories go beyond it, ending more traditionally. A few of the tales involve bawdy behavior and sexual innuendoes. Bibliographic notes provide source information but Husain's adaptations create substance. Each tale stands alone, strong and vibrant, with its proud protagonist worthy of being female.Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385484053
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
A Riddle for a King 1
Across the Sunlit Courtyard 10
Secure, at Last 31
Rubies for a Dog 74
The Legend of Mary Ambree 91
The Mouse, the Thing, and the Wand 112
The Sand-Sifter 140
A Tortuous Path 162
A Gown of Moonthreads 175
What Will Be Will Be 189
The Coward and the Heroine 224
A Matter of Honor 242
Notes 257
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