6 Jan 2019

Something Fishy

Philip Hayward (Editor) Scaled for Success: The Internationalisation of the Mermaid. John Libbey & Company (1 Jan. 2019)
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Emerging from the confluence of Greco-Roman mythology and regional folklore, the mermaid has been an enduring motif in Western culture since the medieval period. It has also been disseminated more widely, initially through Western trade and colonisation and, more recently, through the increasing globalisation of media products and outlets. Scaled for Success offers the first detailed overview of the mermaids dispersal outside Europe.

Complementing previous studies of the interrelationship between the mermaid and Mami Wata spirit in West Africa, this volume addresses the mermaids presence in a range of Middle Eastern, Asian, Australian, Latin American and North American contexts. Individual chapters identify the manner in which the mermaid has been variously syncretised and/or re-signified in contexts as diverse as Indian public statuary, Thai cinema and Coney Islands annual Mermaid Parade.

Rather than lingering as a relic of a bygone age, the mermaid emerges as a versatile, dynamic and, above all, polyvalent figure. Her prominence exemplifies the manner in which contemporary media-lore has extended the currency of established folkloric figures in new and often surprising ways. Analysing aspects of religious symbolism, visual art, literature and contemporary popular culture, this copiously illustrated volume profiles an intriguing and highly diverse phenomenon.