Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Book Review: Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods by William D. Westervelt

Hawaiian Legends of Ghosts and Ghost-Gods collected and translated from the Hawaiian by William D. Westervelt

This collection of ancient folklore from Hawaii has a good mixture of familiar and unfamiliar elements. Like many other mythologies, it deals with gods and goddesses, heroes and villains, magic fruit and magical transformations, visits to the realm of the dead and talking animals. Unlike many other mythologies, it has a very Hawaiian flavor. Sharks and turtles feature among the talking animals, with the sharks being rather helpful and the turtles opposing humans. Local fruit and local fish play roles in various tales. A lot of the nature mythology is based on the ocean and the volcanoes, making the stories interesting and very far from the stuff of the Grimm Brothers. 

Most of the stories are good, with an occasional rambling, pointless tale thrown in. The Hawaiian language is very pleasant-sounding even if it looks over-voweled to the eye. 


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