This book review was written by Eugene Kernes
“They escape domestic abuse and violence through storytelling. Rarely wielding the sword and often deprived of the pen, women have relied on the domestic crafts and their verbal analogues – spinning tales, weaving plots, and telling yarns – to make things right, not just getting even but also securing social justice.” – Maria Tatar, Introduction, Page XVIII
“In other words, true heroism is situated not in those striving for glory and immortality but in the fearless women who sought to preserve life – sometimes just to survive – rather than engage in senseless acts of annihilation.” – Maria Tatar, Chapter 1: “Sing, O Muse”, Page 43
“Gossip has value precisely because it creates opportunities for talking through the emotional entanglements of our social lives. Its participants jointly construct narratives from the stuff of everyday life, spicy plots charged with speculative glee. Gossip takes up a range of topics, among them scandal, which invites us to engage in talk about moral dilemmas and social conflicts. And, more important, it serves as a resource for those without access to other options for securing knowledge, operating as a licensed form of release that may not upend the order of things but still serves as an expressive outlet.” – Maria Tatar, Chapter 3: Resistance and Revelation, Page 121
Is This An Overview?
Women go on quests, but use different methods than men to find resolutions. Using stealth, curiosity, and empathy to seek knowledge and justice. Rather than wield the sword, they use their voice. Women strove to preserve life, in ways without violence. Using their voice to share information, often through storytelling, as a form of therapy and finding meaning. A voice that holds power of persuasion, to change other people’s behavior.
As the power of women came from using their voice, their voice has often been silenced. Even silenced, women were able to communicate. Taking the risk in voicing information. A valuable communication method was gossip, for gossip creates a network of social interactions beyond an authority’s control. A way of collecting information, and turning the information into useful knowledge through analysis. As culture changes, the stories about women also change. The rare female warrior has become routine. No longer passive receipts of ire, but active agents of heroic change.
Myths and stories reflect social values. Either values change, which changes the stories being told to reflect the values, or the stories influence a change in values. Once acceptable types of story structures, have changed their worth. In this book, the prior stories are disparaged, even though they reflect different sets of values that were complex and acceptable during the eras. Simplifying the complexity of the stories into men being brutes who care for little else besides violence, and women who are victims but still want the best for others.