Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico, edited by Rafael Ocasio, is now available from Rutgers University Press. Jack Zipes (translator and editor of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition)says, “Rafael Ocasio’s unique bilingual anthology, Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico, is a treasure of delectable and profound tales collected at the beginning of the twentieth century. Moreover, Ocasio’s comprehensive introduction and notes about the history of these tales fills a gap in our understanding of the unusual contribution made by Puerto Rican peasants to the island’s cultural tradition. In short, this is a significant and remarkable book that will bring joy to readers.”
Description: This exciting new anthology gathers together Puerto Rican folktales that were passed down orally for generations before finally being transcribed beginning in 1914 by the team of famous anthropologist Franz Boas. These charming tales give readers a window into the imaginations and aspirations of Puerto Rico’s peasants, the Jíbaro.
Some stories provide a distinctive Caribbean twist on classic tales including “Snow White” and “Cinderella.” Others fictionalize the lives of local historical figures, such as infamous pirate Roberto Cofresí, rendered here as a Robin Hood figure who subverts the colonial social order. The collection also introduces such beloved local characters as Cucarachita Martina, the kind cockroach who falls in love with Ratoncito Pérez, her devoted mouse husband who brings her delicious food.
Including a fresh English translation of each folktale as well as the original Spanish version, the collection also contains an introduction from literary historian Rafael Ocasio that highlights the historical importance of these tales and the Jíbaro cultural values they impart. These vibrant, funny, and poignant stories will give readers unique insights into Puerto Rico’s rich cultural heritage.
Rafael Ocasio is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia.