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Michele L. Worley
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Once upon a time (I was about 8), a family friend handed down his Collier's Junior Classic series to me - each volume is a glorious hodgepodge of short stories from here, there, and everywhere. I got to be very fond of Greek mythology, especially "The Chimaera" and "The Miraculous Pitcher", since the Collier retellings of their respective legends were much more lively than the ordinary.
Alas, I forgot the name of the author of "The Chimaera", and even that my favourite versions of the myths were all written by the same person. Some talented guy writing for the series, no doubt, I would have said, if I'd thought about it. A couple of years ago, I started browsing through an impressive-looking illustrated volume of mythology in a bookstore (which you now see before you). Whoa. "Scarlet Letter" Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote *THESE*?
His retellings of Greek myths were originally spread over 2 volumes (the other being _Tanglewood Tales_), but they can be obtained in a single volume these days. I can personally do without the gang of Tanglewood kids providing the official audience for the stories-within-a-story, or the defense against critics put into the mouth of the storyteller Eustace Bright, but then I want more space for more myths. :) Each myth in _A Wonder Book_ has an Introductory and After the Story section where the storyteller leads up to the tale, then fends off any awkward questions from his young audience.
"The Gorgon's Head" - The story of Perseus, from his infancy through the quest for Medusa's head. Hawthorne skates delicately past the question of who put Perseus and his mother, Danae, in a chest and abandoned them on the sea, let alone why (toned down for kids, and all that), and of course doesn't go into detail about what mischief Polydectes might intend if Perseus can be got out of the way.
Hawthorne is otherwise thorough about details: he even includes the Three Gray Women, who share the use of a single eye, who had to be persuaded to reveal the location of the monsters whose gaze turns living creatures to stone.
"The Golden Touch" - The Midas legend, of how a king, blinded by a love of gold, foolishly asked Apollo that he be given the gift of turning things into gold with a touch. Be careful what you ask for...
"The Paradise of Children" - The story of Pandora's box. Hawthorne's version, much as I like his other mythological tales, has been prettified a little too much: everyone in the world was a child who never grew up, before the box arrived.
"The Three Golden Apples" - The 11th labour of Hercules, wherein the king sent him to fetch the apples of the Hesperides. The tale begins with Hercules meeting a band of nymphs, who hear his account (only briefly summarized, alas) of his preceding labours before directing him to the one person who can direct him to the garden: the Old Man of the Sea...
"The Miraculous Pitcher" - Philemon and his wife Bauchis have grown old together - the only kindly folk living for a good way around a prosperous village, whose inhabitants delight in tormenting vagabonds (although they'll fawn on wealthy-looking strangers). Then one day a ragged youth called Quicksilver and a taciturn man with an appearance of great wisdom are driven out of the village...
"The Chimaera" - Bellerophon's pursuit of Pegasus, whom he seeks because only in the air does he have a chance of killing the monstrous chimaera. Bellerophon's long wait beside the fountain of Pirene, where Pegasus descends to drink, is enlivened by several characters living round about: an old man who can't even remember his glory days, an overly timid maiden who'd run from anything unusual, a yokel who only appreciates plowhorses, and a little boy (the only one who really believes in Pegasus).