The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit by Joel Chandler Harris
The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit
by Joel Chandler Harris
A collection of short stories about this trickster from American folklore.

Tricksters - so often featured in a wide variety of literature - are intriguing because they can be good or evil, or both.  In many tales, the trickster is cast as the hero who uses their wits and guile to out fox the stronger and faster foe.  A classic example would be Odysseus, the ancient Greek who used cunning and trickery to fool his enemies and conquer Troy with his wooden horse.  Another example comes in Watership Down where Richard Adams describes rabbit folklore centered on El-ahrairah – a clever rabbit devoted to trickery who infuriates his enemies but repeatedly saves his warren.

At other times, the trickster blurs the line between that of a childlike prankster and someone who happily causes malicious harm.  The German trickster Till Eulenspiegel does exactly this, he sees people as being no better than any animal and delights in revealing their follies and inadequacies.  The moral being we should realize our faults, but Till feels that humiliation is necessary to really teach the lesson.

Tricksters come from all walks of life and are found in ancient mythology, folk tales handed down by aural tradition, simple stories and modern literature like Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. Every culture around the world has their own type of tricksters. They could be gods who meddle in the affairs of mortals, to the anthropomorphic Brer Rabbit who entertains our children with wit and guile.

 

Books About Tricksters

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman

A modern tale concerning the west African spider god, Anansi.
Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore
Coyote Blue
by Christopher Moore

A Californian salesman has his life turned upside down by the Native American trickster-god Coyote.
Sungura and Leopard by Barbara Knutson
Sungura and Leopard
by Barbara Knutson

A Swahili folk tale about a rabbit and a leopard who both want to live in a house on the hill.
The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
The Lost Gate
by Orson Scott Card

In the ancient world pantheons of gods ruled over man until the Norse trickster, Loki, sealed off the source of their power.
To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust
To Reign in Hell
by Steven Brust

Lilith, a love interest of both Lucifer and Satan, plays a central role in this story about the revolt of heaven’s angels.
Puck of Pook’s Hill by Rudyard Kipling
Puck of Pook’s Hill
by Rudyard Kipling

A classic series of stories mostly narrated by the trickster elf Puck.
Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en
Journey to the West
by Wu Cheng'en

Sun Wukong, the Monkey king, is a trickster in this epic Chinese novel.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman

Cree god Wisakedjak is portrayed as being responsible for the great flood and appears in this book along with Loki and Anansi.
Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe
Soldier of Sidon
by Gene Wolfe

Ancient Egyptian god Set, known as a drunkard and instigator of confusion, plays a major role in this book about a soldier’s journey.
Reynard the Fox by Alain Vaes
Reynard the Fox
by Alain Vaes

This trickster is an anthropomorphic red fox found in Dutch, French, English and German fables.
The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol by Eric A. Kimmel
The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol
by Eric A. Kimmel

Hershel is a Jewish prankster who usually plays tricks on the rich and the powerful.
The Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey
by Homer

Odysseus may be the most famous trickster in history and he needed all his guile to return home from Troy.
Brogeen Follows the Magic Tune by Patricia Lynch
Brogeen Follows the Magic Tune
by Patricia Lynch

Brogeen is one of the most infamous tricksters in Ireland, a leprechaun.
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
The Fox Woman
by Kij Johnson

Kitsune, Japanese for fox, are intelligent beings with magical abilities, including becoming human.
Iktomi and The Buzzard by Paul Goble
Iktomi and The Buzzard
by Paul Goble

The Lakota in North and South Dakota have Iktomi the spider spirit, who like Anansi, enjoys mischief.
Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
Villa Incognito
by Tom Robbins

Tanuki is a raccoon dog who features in Japanese mythology. Tanuki can shapeshift and has a lust for sake and women.
Tales of Nanabozho by Dorothy M. Reid
Tales of Nanabozho
by Dorothy M. Reid

Nanabozho is the trickster figure of the Ojibwa people in North Mexico.
Raven by Gerald McDermott
Raven
by Gerald McDermott

A native American folk tale from the Pacific Northwest where the trickster Raven steals the sun.
Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains by Barbara Knutson
Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains
by Barbara Knutson

Cuy is a small guinea pig who plays the role of Brer Rabbit, tricking the farmer and the fox in this South American tale.
Zomo the Rabbit by Gerald McDermott
Zomo the Rabbit
by Gerald McDermott

A picture book featuring a west African trickster who must complete three tasks.
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Stone Soup
by Marcia Brown

Three hungry soldiers trick a village into sharing their food by showing them how to make soup with three stones.
Contrarywise by Zohra Greenhalgh
Contrarywise
by Zohra Greenhalgh

This novel features an Olympian-style trickster who enjoys toying with the lives of mortals.
Till Eulenspiegel: His Adventures by Paul Oppenheimer
Till Eulenspiegel: His Adventures
by Paul Oppenheimer

This trickster originates from German folklore, and he thumbs his nose at everyone from priest to hangman
Coyote Stories by Mourning Dove
Coyote Stories
by Mourning Dove

First published in 1933, this collection describes the adventures of Coyote in native American mythology.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Pippi Longstocking
by Astrid Lindgren

This crafty quick thinking child frequently dupes adults, who she finds pompous and condescending making.

 

Which tricksters are missing from this list? - leave a comment:

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