4 ♦ The Golden Fleece

And my first story for the Deal Me In challenge comes from Tanglewood Tales.  How appropriate!

Constantine Volanakis Argo

“The Golden Fleece” is the last story in Tanglewood Tales, a sequel to A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys.  Through the frame plot of a young student, Eustace Bright, retelling Greek myths to his little cousins, Nathaniel Hawthorne takes us through the highlights of these sanguinary dramas in a quaint, cosy, and child-friendly format.  “The Golden Fleece” recounts the epic quest of Jason and the Argonauts, as they embark in a fifty-oar ship to find the mythical ram’s fleece and reclaim the kingdom that was stolen from Jason’s father.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit.  It was entertaining and often funny, a nice balance to the darkness of Gatsby to start off this year’s reading.  The abrupt ending – and a few loose threads – were the main things I wished had been tidied up.  However, those are more or less due to the myths themselves and not Hawthorne’s rendition, necessarily.  4.5 stars.

A side note – many critics would take issue with his bowdlerization of the original plots.  It doesn’t bother me, especially since he approaches it almost like a spin-off rather than censorship.  Growing up, I read another small collection (for children) of the Greek myths, and it was perhaps slightly less “adapted,” but also more dreary.  The point is, I do think this is a good adaptation to give kids the gist of the myths.  This, and Wishbone (oops – dating myself here!).


  1. o Avatar

    This looks good – I'll have to keep an eye out for it 🙂


  2. Paula Cappa Avatar
    Paula Cappa

    I love Hawthorne. I've not read this one but it sounds intriguing. My favorite Hawthorne short story is The Haunted Mind. No matter how many times I reread that story, I get something new out of it.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I guess I don't have a copy of Tanglewood Tales in my Hawthorne library. I'm beginning to think its a serious oversight. I could listen to the classical myths (re-telling or original telling) all day.P.S. Love your e-reader. 🙂


  4. cleopatra Avatar

    I think Padriac Colum has a version of this story too. It would be fun to read them side-by-side.I love your pictures …… very creative!


  5. Ruth Avatar

    I have to get this book. We are studying Classical Greece right now, and my kids would love this. I'm going to see if my library carries it.


  6. Ruth Avatar

    I was able to get two different picture books through my library, but I have no idea what they will look like; and then I found a free Kindle version of The Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls on Amazon.com, which is now on my iCloud, so I would have to choose stories from it to read aloud to my kids. But this will be great. I'm glad I read your post.


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