Once upon a time in the city of Tunis, a flirtatious young girl was drawn into Lilith's dangerous web by glancing repeatedly at herself in the mirror. It seems that a demon daughter of the legendary Lilith had made her home in the mirror and would soon completely possess the unsuspecting girl. Such tales of terror and the supernatural occupy an honored position in the Jewish folkloric tradition.
Howard Schwartz has superbly translated and retold fifty of the best of these folktales, now collected into one volume for the first time. Gathered from countless sources ranging from the ancient Middle East to twelfth-century Germany and later Eastern European oral tradition, these captivating stories include Jewish variants of the Pandora and Persephone myths and of such famous folktales as "The Fisherman and His Wife," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and "Bluebeard," as well as several tales from the Middle Ages that have never before been published.
Focusing on crucial turning points in life--birth, marriage, and death--the tales feature wandering spirits, marriage with demons, werewolves, speaking heads, possession by dybbuks (souls of the dead who enter the bodies of the living), and every other kind of supernatural adversary. Readers will encounter a carpenter who is haunted when he makes a violin from the wood of a coffin; a wife who saves herself from the demoness her husband has inadvertently married by agreeing to share him for an hour each day; and the age-old tale of Lilith, Adam's first wife, who refused to submit to him and instead banished herself from the Garden of Eden to give birth to the demons of the world.
Drawn from Rabbinic sources, medieval Jewish folklore, Hasidic texts, and oral tradition, these stories will equally entrance readers of Jewish literature and those with an affection for fantasy and the supernatural.
"Imagine an American Hans Christian Andersen, conceive of the Brothers Grimm living in Missouri, and you will approximate Howard Schwartz, a fable-maker and fable-gatherer seduced by the uncanny and the unearthly. In Lilith's Cave, he once again reaches into a magical cornucopia of folklore and fantasy and spreads before us, in enchanting language, the marvels and shocks of dybbuks, ghosts, demons, spirits, and wizards."--Cynthia Ozick
"Howard Schwartz continues to mine the rich vein of Jewish story with marvelous results....These engrossing tales travel the breadth and depth of Jewish tradition, encompassing not only the holy and enlightened, but the other side of the Jews' fears and longings as well."--Jane Yolen, editor of Favorite Folktales from Around the World
"Howard Schwartz is a leader in a generation of Jews devoted to rebuilding that which was nearly destroyed a few mere decades ago. He sifts through the ashes and finds sparks and fragments of a spiritual world which offers us light and sustenance. Contained within these tales is an authentic voice of the Jewish people. Howard Schwartz is therefore like an angel: he is a messenger between worlds, bringing gifts from one to another."--Arthur Kurzweil,
editor-in-chief, Jewish Book Club
"A collection of fifty captivating stories....Fascinating....An excellent translation, a scholarly introduction, and a good system of cross-reference ensure that this book will become a classic in its genre."--The Jerusalem Post
"The selections for this collection afford a fascinating vision of life beyond the Yenne Velt, the 'Other World'....Both a scholarly investigation into a valuable repository of human history and an engaging journey into the shadowy world of our ancestors' fears."--Midstream
"Howard Schwartz is an excellent teller of tales and an erudite editor....The writing and choice of tales is lively, thoughtful, and emotionally engaging."--Genesis 2
"Howard Schwartz...possesses two of the most marvelous gifts one can receive: he is both a born storyteller and a wise scholar in the realm of Jewish mystical folklore and tales of the supernatural."--St. Louis Jewish Light
"These fifty Jewish tales of the supernatural, dug up...and retold by our leading tale-recycler, will delight fans of goose pimples."--Sh'ma
"A delightful collection of tales of Jewish ghosts, demons, magic, holy and powerful rabbis, and seductive demonesses, Lilith's Cave could be great bedside reading for the coming winter nights."--Gnosis Magazine
"The light and the dark interpenetrate here, as in life, and are caught in the dazzling patterns of Shulevitz's masterly illustrations....Schwartz provides nourishment for both male and female souls, and passes on tales collected from grandmothers, rabbis, and tailors."--Shaman's Drum
"Enjoyable, whether in the literary-poetic versions of Howard Schwartz or in the oral-person voice of Pninnah Schram....As readers and lovers of folktales in general and of Jewish lore in particular, we can only praise the authors for making available, on a large scale, some hidden treasures of Jewish wisdom."--Jewish Folklore & Ethnology Review
"Brings all the dark imagery of Jewish folklore alive. It presents a world of fearsome illusion."--Jewish Journal
"Howard Schwartz has carved himself a special place by selecting and rewriting stories drawn from Jewish folk materials....A book to dip into and think about...entertaining and often intriguing."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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