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327 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2007
...they would finally stop bowing down to men with bloodshot eyes, men who are guilty of killing millions of people, and who still have not had enough. For they are the ones who leave a trail of human skulls behind them, yet people's torpid imaginations stick those skulls on the fence of a solitary old woman who lives on the edge of the forest.This book is the same breed as Mr. Fox, metafiction put through its paces for a far more exacting goal than that of navel gazing and the like. Here there is no pretense that fiction owes nothing to reality and as such is free to do what it likes. Instead, we have the triptych of author, story, and critic, with nary a needful implication of holiness between them. The world doesn't need another extension of the patriarchal metaphor that is most religions. The women this tale would never have gotten a happy, self-determining, human ending, were that not the case.
Sitting like that under an array of sun specks, surrendered to sleep, she looked like an ancient slumbering goddess.I've picked up pieces of the picture of misogyny indoctrinated through cultural beliefs the world over through The Second Sex and The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, but it's one thing for the phrase 'Baba Yaga' to bring to mind a comb, a towel, a house on chicken legs, and quite another to immerse oneself in the entire mythos of this menacing specter. Crone, witch, hater of women and killer of children, full of dastardly danger if one is not male and doesn't treat her with enough officious scorn. What matters here is not adherence to the canon, but what said adherence means in the long run for those born without a dick. Folklore and fairy tales it all may be, but fiction upon fiction births excuse upon excuse to forgo representations based on anything but poisonous stereotype. Grow up with promises woven through every tale, true and/or false, of brutal retribution should you stray from the path of innocent beauty and selfless huswifery, your only reward for such self-sacrifice being neglectful contempt, and see how far you get.
All in all, it is not hard to conclude from this quick survey that Baba Yaga straddles the globe: the 'baba genus'is international, and Baba Yaga's kinsfolk can be found in Asia, South America, and Africa; 'Baba Yaga's International' is making trouble here, there and everywhere, as it has always done.Ježibaba, Baba Roga, Forest Mother, Mountain Mother, Mamapadurei, Baba Cloanta, Baba Coaja, Baba Harca, Sfinta Vineri, Vasorru baba, Ragana, Jendžibaba, wurlawy, Wjera, Zhaliznonosa baba, gamlemor, trollkjerring, kjerringa mot strommen, Syoyatar, Akka, Arie, Perchta, Frau Holle, ALabasti, Empusa, Lamia, Hecatete, Eos, Selea, Erida, Ino, Medusa, Graeae, Erinyes, Harpies, Stymphalides, Sphinx, Larvae, Strige, Mainas, Echidna, Morai, Parcae, Norns, crone, witch, spinster, manhater, bitch, whore, slut, shrew. All this, and for what? You tell me.