The trickster and the hero, found in so many of the world's oral traditions, are seemingly opposed but often united in one character. Trickster and Hero provides a comparative look at a rich array of world oral traditions, folktales, mythologies, and literatures - from The Odyssey, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Beowulf to Native American and African tales. Award-winning folklorist Harold Scheub explores the 'Trickster moment,' the moment in the story when the tale, the teller, and the listener are transformed: we are both man and woman, god and human, hero and villain. Scheub delves into the importance of trickster mythologies and the shifting relationships between tricksters and heroes. He examines protagonists that figure centrally in a wide range of oral narrative traditions, showing that the true hero is always to some extent a trickster as well. The trickster and hero, Scheub contends, are at the core of storytelling, and all the possibilities of life are there: we are taken apart and rebuilt, dismembered and reborn, defeated and renewed.
Harold Scheub is professor of African languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author of many books, including Story; The Tongue Is Fire: South African Storytellers and Apartheid; and The Poem in the Story; and the editor of African Tales and of The World and the Word: Tales and Observations from the Xhosa Oral Tradition.
Prologue Introduction Part One. Trickster, Preparation for the Hero 1 African Profane Trickster Tales 2 Mantis and Legba, Divine Tricksters Part Two. The Trickster in the Hero 3 The Foundation of Epic: The Winnebago Hare, Ibonia, Sunjata, and The Odyssey Part Three. The Hero, with the Trickster at the Center 4 Mwindo 5 Gilgamesh and Beowulf Conclusion Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index