Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions


The wisdom and artistry of Latin America's storytellers preserve one of the world's richest folktale traditions—combining the lore of medieval Europe, the ancient Near East, and pre-Columbian America. Among the essential characters are the quiet man's wife who knew the Devil's secrets, the three daughters who robbed their father's grave, and the wife in disguise who married her own husband—not to mention the Bear's son, the tricksters Fox and Monkey, the two compadres, and the ...
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Latin American Folktales: Stories from Hispanic and Indian Traditions

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The wisdom and artistry of Latin America's storytellers preserve one of the world's richest folktale traditions—combining the lore of medieval Europe, the ancient Near East, and pre-Columbian America. Among the essential characters are the quiet man's wife who knew the Devil's secrets, the three daughters who robbed their father's grave, and the wife in disguise who married her own husband—not to mention the Bear's son, the tricksters Fox and Monkey, the two compadres, and the classic rogue Pedro de Urdemalas.

Gathered from twenty countries, including the United States, the stories are brought together here in a core collection of one hundred tales arranged in the form of a velorio, or wake, the most frequent occasion for public storytelling. The tales are preceded by a selection of early Colonial legends foreshadowing the themes of Latino folklore and are followed by a carefully chosen group of modern Indian myths that replay the basic stories in a contrasting key. Riddles, chain riddles, and folk prayers, part and parcel of the velorio along with folktales, are introduced at appropriate junctures.

The collection is unprecedented in size and scope, and most of the tales have not been translated into English before. The result is the first panoramic anthology of Hispano-American folk narratives in any language.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A cornucopia of magic and myth . . . Beware, for the pages of this volume—filled with tricksters, witches, and ghosts—are enchanted!"
—Ilan Stavans
Part of the Pantheon fairy tale and folklore library, this rich collection is creatively edited and carefully annotated with an additional glossary and listing by motif. An excellent introduction will help the teacher or advanced reader, but the tales are accessible to all. Bierhorst has carefully arranged first the Inca and Aztec tales from the colonial era, then the tales gathered in the 20th century, set out in the format of a velorio, or wake, nine nights of stories told to keep those mourning the dead awake throughout the night. While many of the stories are clearly forms adapted from European folk and fairy tales brought to the New World by colonizers, even the most familiar, the Cinderella-like stories, have their own flavor and twists. The stories are short, many less than a page, often humorous, and just as often teaching a moral lesson. People turn into animals and then back again, die and rise, trick and are tricked, entrancing the reader. More than 100 stories from 20 Hispanic countries are jam-packed into this volume, many appearing for the first time in English. This valuable compilation is highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: JSA*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Random House, Pantheon, 386p. notes. bibliog., Ages 12 to adult.
— Patricia Moore
Library Journal
These two works are similar in origin but different in genre. Bierhorst's features over 100 stories in a more traditional style from Mexico, Central America, the American Southwest, and South America. Many read like traditional European fairy tales, which should not be surprising since they reflect a strong Spanish Colonial influence, even though they have sprouted from the seedbed of indigenous folklore. The first part of this book contains Aztec and Inca legends but not very ancient ones; most date from the time just prior to or during the Conquest. The second part of the book features dynamic tales reflecting all short story or folktale genres: comic, anecdotal, moral, heroic, and religious. The tales are short and pithy and often pack a surprise punch line, making for extremely interesting reading. Fantasmas is a collection of stories by 19 well-known or emerging Mexican American writers whose inspirations seep from the cuento de fantasmas literally "ghost stories" but more a unique blend of folklore and faith, superstition and the supernatural. These tales and urban legends are modern, with a nod make that a bow to current pop culture's fascination with horror and the paranormal. They run the gamut from the grotesque ("Cantinflas," "Lilith's Dance") to those displaying gracia, that elusive, heart-lightening quality that divides art from craft ("Beyond Eternity," "Michelle's Miracle"). Still others, such as "The Gift," would make excellent X-Files material, although a strong moral is attached. Fascinating but disturbing, these tales may reflect the authors' need to purge themselves of personal or cultural fears. Public library patrons will enjoy the richness of the folktales and the sheer thrills transmitted by the fantasmas. And academic library patrons will have materials for cultural and ethnic studies now compiled into two convenient anthologies. Recommended for both types of libraries. Nedra C. Evers, Sacramento P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Latin American culture has had myriad influences, many of which are reflected in this sizable collection of more than 100 folktales. Here Christianity sits comfortably next to animism, God has a sister, and royalty is both European and indigenous. A section of early Colonial tales opens the book, with the remainder being stories gathered during the 20th century. Containing selections collected from 20 different countries, the book travels all over the Western Hemisphere. Indigenous cultures tapped include the Zuni, Maya, and Quechua as well as the lesser-known Kogi and Tacana. Tales are short, typically no more than a couple of pages long. Moods run from silly to serious, from delightful to scary and disturbing. A couple of short sections containing riddles are thrown in as an extra treat. As though at a tasty buffet, casual readers will gain maximum enjoyment by picking out whatever strikes their fancy. More serious readers will find the "Register of Tale Types and Selected Motifs" useful in guiding their selections. Most of the stories in this entertaining volume have never before been translated into English, making it worthy of any collection.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375714399
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/9/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 640,934
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

John Bierhorst's books on Latin American lore include The Mythology of South America and The Mythology of Mexico and Central America. He currently serves as an editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Prologue: Early Colonial Legends 19
1 Montezuma / Nahua (Mexico) 22
I The Talking Stone 22
II Montezuma's Wound 25
III Eight Omens 26
IV The Return of Quetzalcoatl 28
V Is It You? 32
2 Legends of the Inca Kings / Quechua (Peru) 34
I Mayta Capac 34
II The Storm 36
III The Vanishing Bride 38
IV A Messenger in Black 40
V The Oracle at Huamachuco 41
3 Bringing Out the Holy Word / Mexico (Nahua) 42
Folktales: A Twentieth-Century Wake 45
4 In the City of Benjamin / Ecuador 49
5 Antuco's Luck / Chile 51
6 Don Dinero and Dona Fortuna / Dominican Republic 56
7 Mistress Lucia / Mexico 57
8 St. Peter's Wishes / Cuba 63
9 The Coyote Teodora / Honduras 64
10 Buried Alive / California 65
11 The Three Gowns / Puerto Rico 67
12 The Horse of Seven Colors / Venezuela 72
13 The Cow / New Mexico 78
14 Death and the Doctor / Dominican Republic 81
15 What the Owls Said / Mexico (Mazatec) 82
16 Aunt Misery / Puerto Rico 84
17 Palm-tree Story / Colombia 85
18 Pedro de Urdemalas 88
I The Letter Carrier from the Other World / Chile 88
II The King's Pigs / Guatemala 89
III The Sack / Chile 89
IV Pedro Goes to Heaven / Argentina 92
19 A Voyage to Eternity / Bolivia 94
20 Mother and Daughter / Colombia 98
21 The Bird Sweet Magic / Costa Rica 98
22 Death Comes as a Rooster / Cuba 103
23 The Twelve Truths of the World / New Mexico 104
Folk Prayers 107
24 The Mouse and the Dung Beetle / Colorado 111
25 The Canon and the King's False Friend / New Mexico 113
26 The Story That Became a Dream / Chile 115
27 St. Theresa and the Lord / Mexico 118
28 Rice from Ashes / Argentina 120
29 Juan Maria and Juana Maria / Guatemala 124
30 The Witch Wife / Colombia 126
31 O Wicked World / Argentina 129
32 The Three Sisters / Colombia 130
33 The Count and the Queen / Colorado 134
34 Crystal the Wise / Chile 137
35 Love Like Salt / Mexico 141
36 The Pongo's Dream / Peru (Quechua) 144
37 The Fox and the Monkey / Bolivia (Aymara) 147
38 The Miser's Jar / Guatemala (Kekchi Maya) 149
39 Tup and the Ants / Mexico (Yucatec Maya) 152
40 A Master and His Pupil / Guatemala 155
41 The Louse-Drum / Panama 157
42 The Three Dreams / Guatemala 159
43 The Clump of Basil / Puerto Rico 161
Riddles 164
44 The Charcoal Peddler's Chicken / Puerto Rico 173
45 The Three Counsels / New Mexico 174
46 Seven Blind Queens / Chile 176
47 The Mad King / Florida 181
48 A Mother's Curse / Puerto Rico 183
49 The Hermit and the Drunkard / Ecuador 184
50 The Noblewoman's Daughter and the Charcoal Woman's Son / Cuba 185
51 The Enchanted Cow / Chile 188
52 Judas's Ear / New Mexico 192
53 Good Is Repaid with Evil / Venezuela 195
54 The Fisherman's Daughter / Colombia 196
55 In the Beginning / Mexico (Mazatec) 201
56 How the First People Were Made / Mexico (Zapotec) 202
57 Adam's Rib / Mexico (Popoluca) 203
58 Adam and Eve and Their Children / New Mexico (Isleta) 203
59 God's Letter to Noeh / Mexico (Zapotec) 204
60 God Chooses Noah / Mexico (Mixe) 205
61 The Flood / Mixe (Mexico) 207
62 A Prophetic Dream / Mexico (Mazatec) 208
63 The White Lily / Ecuador (Quichua) 209
64 The Night in the Stable / Guatemala (Quiche Maya) 209
65 When Morning Came 210
I Why Did It Dawn? / Mexico (Nahua) 210
II That Was the Principal Day / Mexico (Tzotzil Maya) 211
66 Three Kings / New Mexico (Isleta) 211
67 The Christ Child as Trickster / Ecuador (Quichua) 212
68 Christ Saved by the Firefly / Cakchiquel Maya (Guatemala) 213
69 Christ Betrayed by Snails / Belize (Kekchi Maya) 214
70 Christ Betrayed by the Magpie-jay / Mexico (Tzotzil Maya) 214
71 The Blind Man at the Cross / Mexico (Mazatec) 214
72 The Cricket, the Mole, and the Mouse / Mexico (Mazatec) 216
73 As If with Wings / Mexico (Mazatec) 218
74 Slowpoke Slaughtered Four / Puerto Rico 219
75 The Price of Heaven and the Rain of Caramels / Mexico 221
76 Pine Cone the Astrologer / Panama 224
77 The Dragon Slayer / Mexico 225
78 Johnny-boy / Nicaragua 229
79 The Rarest Thing / Guatemala 230
80 Prince Simpleheart / Costa Rica 232
81 The Flower of Lily-Lo / Mexico 236
82 My Garden Is Better Than Ever / Mexico (Popoluca) 238
83 Juan Bobo and the Pig / Puerto Rico 239
84 The Parrot Prince / Chile 240
Chain Riddles 245
85 A Dead Man Speaks / Texas 251
86 The Bear's Son / Honduras (Lenca) 252
87 Charity / Argentina 259
88 Riches Without Working / Mexico (Nahua) 260
89 Let Somebody Buy You Who Doesn't Know You / Guatemala 262
90 The Mouse King / Bolivia 264
91 Mariquita Grim and Mariquita Fair / Cuba 266
92 The Compadre's Dinner / Dominican Republic 270
93 The Hog / Colorado 272
94 Two Sisters / Puerto Rico 272
95 The Ghosts' Reales / Dominican Republic 274
96 The Bad Compadre / Guatemala (Cakchiquel Maya) 277
97 Black Chickens / Mexico (Tepecano) 283
98 Doublehead / El Salvador (Pipil) 286
99 Littlebit / Chile 288
100 Rosalie / Mexico (Yucatec Maya) 293
101 A Day Laborer Goes to Work / Mexico (Otomi) 297
102 The Moth / Peru (Quechua) 303
103 The Earth Ate Them / Argentina 304
Epilogue: Twentieth-Century Myths 307
104 Why Tobacco Grows Close to Houses / Kogi (Colombia) 310
105 The Buzzard Husband / Tzotzil Maya (Mexico) 310
106 The Dead Wife / Miskito (Nicaragua) 314
107 Romi Kumu Makes the World / Barasana (Colombia) 315
108 She Was Thought and Memory / Kogi (Colombia) 316
109 Was It Not an Illusion? / Witoto (Colombia) 317
110 The Beginning Life of the Hummingbird / Mbya Guarani (Paraguay) 318
111 Ibis Story / Yamana (Chile) 319
112 The Condor Seeks a Wife / Quechua (Bolivia) 320
113 The Priest's Son Becomes an Eagle / Zuni (New Mexico) 322
114 The Revolt of the Utensils / Tacana (Bolivia) 325
115 The Origin of Permanent Death / Shuar (Ecuador) 326
Notes 329
Register of Tale Types and Selected Motifs 363
Glossary of Native Cultures 369
Bibliography 373
Permissions Acknowledgments 385
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  • Posted January 11, 2012

    You would like this book

    I kinda like this book because some of it was funny. I don't like this book because some of it did not make sense at all.

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