21 Sep 2009

Tanglewood Tales

We've just finished Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales. We loved it, but that's no surprise to most of you, I expect. Hawthorne's poetic Victorian English combined with his ability to take the immoral escapades of the Greek gods and goddesses and turn them into moral tales for children has made him one of the most highly regarded of the American authors...

"Good mother," replied Jason, "your business can hardly be so important as the pulling down a king from his throne. Besides, as you may see for yourself, the river is very boisterous; and if I should chance to stumble, it would sweep both of us away more easily than it has carried off yonder uprooted tree. I would gladly help you if I could; but I doubt whether I am strong enough to carry you across."

"Then," said she, very scornfully, "neither are you strong enough to pull King Pelias off his throne. And, Jason, unless you will help an old woman at her need, you ought not to be a king. What are kings made for, save to succor the feeble and distressed?

Saying this, the old woman poked with her staff in the river, as if to find the safest place in its rocky bed where she might make the first step. But Jason, by this time, had grown ashamed of his reluctance to help her. He felt that he could never forgive himself if this poor feeble creature should come to any harm in attempting to wrestle against the headlong current. The good Chiron had taught him that the noblest use of his strength was to assist the weak; and also that he must treat every young woman as if she were his sister, and every old one like a mother. Remembering these maxims, the vigorous and beautiful young man knelt down, and requested the good dame to mount upon his back.

Our copy of Tanglewood Tales was published in 1955 by J M Dent & Sons Ltd. Before I put it away on the bookshelf, I just want to share the gorgeous colour plates with you. They're by Dutch illustrator Salomon van Abbé , and really added to our enjoyment of the story.

Hope you like them too.


  1. Wow, those illustrations really are something aren't they?! Thank you for sharing!


  2. Hi,
    I love your description and the excerpts from Tanglewood Tales. It sounds like a great book to read following Greek Myths etc.
    I am interested in adding a link to your blog on my website. Would you be willing to contact me about this?

  3. Hi Jeanne,
    My daughter would also like this book, as she likes reading stories about Greek gods, so could you please enter me in the draw? Thank you.

  4. Those ARE lovely illustrations! I so, so miss homeschool with B--I love reading about your books.


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