FFC 259

Marisa Rey-Henningsen: The Tales of the Ploughwoman. Appendix to FFC 254. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia Scientiarum Fennica). 1996. 154 pp.

ISBN 951-41-0782-9 (hardback)
ISBN 951-41-0781-0 (paperback)

17 euros (hardback)
13 (paperback)

The Tales of the Ploughwoman is a selection of folk narratives from Galicia in Northwest Spain. Both tales of wonder, realistic tales, funny stories, legends and jokes are clear exponents of woman’s “natural” supremacy. It is due neither to “poetic fiction” nor “female wishful thinking” when the woman in Galician tales is the heir of the kingdom and the heroine who can overcome all obstacles. Women appear in active heroe roles, as mother and ruler, as fairy or witch, while men constantly appear as victims, villains or clownish heroes. This is all the “natural order” in accordance with the cultural and economic female dominance that prevailed until very recently in those parts of rural Spain, as described in The World of the Ploughwoman (FFC 254). Over half of the tales are published here for the first time. They were collected by the author or by her husband, Gustav Henningsen, during their folkloristic fieldwork in Galicia respectively in the 1960s and 1970s. Translation from Galician/Spanish was undertaken by David Hohnen.

MARISA REY-HENNINGSEN grew up in a living storytelling milieu. Both her parents were of Galician origin and could tell tales from oral tradition. Moreover her mother preferred maids from Galicia and most of these women, whose ages ranged from eighteen to seventy, were illiterate and possessed a store of tales which they lavished on one another and on the children of the house. Since 1956 she has lived in Denmark, where she concluded her postgraduate studies with a Ph.D. degree from the University of Copenhagen. Besides books and articles on women’s history and folkloristic subjects, she has published a novel, several short stories and a children’s book. Her most recent publication The World of the Ploughwoman. Folklore and Reality in Matriarchal Northwest Spain. Helsinki 1995 (= FFC 254) obtained honourable mention at the Pitrè­Salomon prize-giving at Palermo in 1995. Marisa Rey-Henningsen is an associate member of the Folklore Fellows and at present working on a folktale project at the Danish Folklore Archives in Copenhagen.

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