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Tale of the Month > July Tale of the Month - Mermaids

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Surlalune Fairy Tales is releasing a new collection of mermaid folklore. Hence this month's topic.

Cat, in Red Dwarf, points out mermaids have the fish part on the wrong end. Yet mermaids, and to a lesser degree merman, have inhabited human stories for a long time.

Sometimes the mermaids take the shape of sirens who lull man into the sea. Mermaids have caused curses in Scotland and Germany.

Perhaps the most famous mermaid story is "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen. A statue of the title character sets in the harbor at Copenhagen, when it's not on loan to Japan or has been blown up or beheaded or dressed in a veil. Copenhagan also has a statue of the merman and his seven sons in one of its canals.

There are also merhorses who in many cultures would carry a rider to his doom in the water.

Are the differences in mermaids and mermen simply because the stories were first told by men? Does the difference point to something in the human pysche? What is your favorite mermaid story? Is there anything you wanted to know about mermaids?


message 2: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Kitchens (secretly_samus) | 17 comments I love mermaids and have been doing lot's of research about contemporary mermaids.

I've been working on a novel about mermaids, and I have to note that contemporary novels about mermaids seem to be lacking, though they are one of the most recognized fantastical creatures out there.

I think our image might have to do with a contemporary view of art. If you look back enough and to enough cultures it seems the image varies, including having two leg-like fins.


message 3: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
When you say contempory, do you mean modern setting or modern author?

Starbucks' logo is a mermaid, and to be likened to a mermaid was likened to a slut.


message 4: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 71 comments Chris wrote: " to be likened to a mermaid was likened to a slut."

Do you know why and where that was, Chris?


message 5: by Christine (last edited Jul 02, 2011 01:41PM) (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
16th and 17th century, Europe. Most famous was most likely Mary Queen of Scots. Mermaids were connected to goddesses like Venus, so maybe that's where it comes from.


message 6: by Diana (new)

Diana | 2 comments This month's theme is really interesting, especially since I don't really know very much about mermaids... do you have suggestions for some further reading or maybe some documentaries...?


message 7: by Christine (last edited Jul 02, 2011 05:20PM) (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World which came out at the end of last month. Anything at or by Surlalune is good.

If you haven't Andersen's "Little Mermaid" you should.

Check out:

http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/r...

http://www.endicott-studio.com/jMA03S...


Link to Mythic animal exhibit:

http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/mythi...

Ashliman's stories:
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/water.html


message 8: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Kitchens (secretly_samus) | 17 comments By contemporary I mean books involving mermaids as a central character that have been written in the last ten or so years. They're really fascinating legends.


message 9: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Kitchens (secretly_samus) | 17 comments I imagine the slut thing to be because it's sailor's who told the tales, and some scholars believe things like sea cows were what originated the myths - because being trapped on a ship meant men were quite sexually frustrated.


message 10: by Hazel (last edited Jul 03, 2011 05:01AM) (new)

Hazel | 71 comments Shannon wrote: "I imagine the slut thing to be because it's sailor's who told the tales, and some scholars believe things like sea cows were what originated the myths - because being trapped on a ship meant men we..."

I remember the putative manatee- connection. Never found that credible.

So sexually frustrated sailors (never mind masturbation and the other sailors present), decided that marine animals represented promiscuous females? :-)


message 11: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
Well, if you're drunk who knows what marine mammals look like.

Shannon - there are several mermaid romance novels, not my cuppa so I'm not going to comment.

There has been Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale and The Mermaid's Madness which are really good and draw heavily from Andersen.


message 12: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
There is now a mermaids shelf in the bookshelf section of this group. There's even books on it. So if you want mermaid books, check it out.


message 13: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Kitchens (secretly_samus) | 17 comments I've been meaning to read Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale but I'm not a fan of Turgeon's style. Mermaid romance novels are a little creepy to me. I read one by PC Cast, and I think that was enough.


message 14: by Diana (new)

Diana | 2 comments Chris wrote: "Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World which came out at the end of last month. Anything at or by Surlalune is good.

If you haven't Andersen's "Little Mermai..."


Thank you so much! Those seem like great infos for an introduction!
I'll check them out!


message 15: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Laine (aimee_laine) | 5 comments If you're a writer and love the mermaid theme, there is a call for submissions here (ends 12/31) :http://www.duotrope.com/market_6482.aspx


message 17: by Mindy (new)

Mindy (minuet33) | 43 comments Between the Sea and Sky is a YA mermaid book and I loved it!
Between the Sea and Sky


message 18: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 4341 comments Mod
Charles de Lint has a modern version the the Little Mermaid called Our Lady of the Harbour (Newford, #1)


message 19: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
There is a graphic novel, Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson, coming out in Oct that is very good and features a mermaid.


message 20: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3550 comments Mod
I know this topic is old, but thought some of you might like this short poem I read today based on The Little Mermaid. Here's the link: http://www.endicott-studio.com/cofhs/...

I think it's lovely, particularly the third stanza.


message 21: by Anne (new)

Anne (aennie) | 4 comments I would like to comment on the original post, where Chris mentioned the statue of the merman and his seven sons in Copenhagen.

The sculpture by Suste Bonnén (in the canal near Højbro Plads/Højbro Square) is based on the story 'Agnete and the Merman' (Agnete og havmanden).

Now I hope I'll summarize the story correctly, in just a few sentences:

Agnete was a girl who fell in love with a merman. For him, she moved to the bottom of the sea and together they had seven sons. One day, when she was sitting beside her baby's cradle, she heard the churchbells from above. This made her homesick and she asked her husband whether she could go to church. He allowed her to go, but only if she would come back afterwards. She left, but never returned to the sea.

The story is sad, and the statues under water are a bit spooky!

I don't know if Hans Christian Andersen had anything to do with the story (perhaps a retelling). Does anyone know?


message 22: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
I know that HCA's Mermaid story wasn't his first mermaid work. Let me check.


message 23: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1388 comments Mod
I thought there might be a connection. This is from Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller.

Andersen did write a version of the story. His version was called Agnete (written during a tour of Europe). (There is a also a version by Matthew Arnold). It was a poem and not well recieved. A play version of the poem bascially bombed.


For the Little Mermaid, Andersen drew mostly on Undine by de la Motte Fouque.


message 24: by Anne (new)

Anne (aennie) | 4 comments Thank you, Chris! I began reading Undine ages ago, but never made it through the whole story... Even though it's just a short book. Maybe in a second attempt - thank you for reminding me of it :)


message 25: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 4341 comments Mod
This thread was originally started in July 2011. Because of the subject matter and the fact that there are many interesting recommendations, I've moved it into this folder!


message 26: by Leah (new)

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments For fans of water creatures, mermaids and/or the ocean, I just read What the Sea Wants and rated it 4 stars. It's short (70 pages) and probably best for when you want something light. Also, if you loathe ambiguity, pass on this one.


message 27: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) | 34 comments I just read The Sea House. The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford which has dual story lines; contemporary and mid 19thc set in the Scottish Hebrides islands. While not really focused on selkies / mermaids it does have a strong thread about the legends and ends with a reasonable explanation of the folk origins of these tales. Hope that doesn't constitute a spoiler. I rather enjoyed the book.


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