The Fish Prince and Other Stories

by Jane Yolen, Shulamith Oppenheim
Release date: 2001
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy, short stories, young adult

The Fish Prince and Other Stories: Mermen Folk Tales

Mermen? Yes. Long before mermaids emerged to people our inner seas, long before they established their restless, inviting niche in human fantasy, there was the merman. Born of the human need to dominate the great fruitful oceans, to control the vast destructive seas, to regulate the healing rains, to understand the tides, the merman emerged.

The merman was water personified. The imposing water gods could be wheedled, cozened, implored, but – in the end – they were never fooled. How often were Poseidon or Neptune, Lir, Njord and the rest pictured riding the waves along inhospitable shores, shaking their magical tridents or spears or fists at the weak, imploring humans on land? The sea gods called up storms or quieted waves. They flooded the lands. They drowned the unwary.

Yet despite the importance of early fish-tailed gods such as Ea-Enki and Dagon; despite the preponderance of mermen in the mythologies of Babylon, Greece, the British Isles, the Scandinavian peninsula, Germany; despite the mermen ranging along Slavic shores and inland seas; despite the mermen found in Chinese and Japanese lakes, along Polynesian island coasts, and in the lore and literature of the Middle East, the merman has become Legend's Forgotten Man. With its 27 stories from around the world, this volume reconstructs the unnatural history of the Merman.

(updated 2010-09-07)

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