For the distinguished folklorist Maria Tatar, Philomela’s resourcefulness—literally, her craftiness—places her in a secret lineage of truth-telling women ... Dimensions converge in Tatar’s book: deep, shimmering, archetypal time and the urgency of the present moment ... I had hopes that Tatar would do for the Hero’s Journey and its tropes what Hannah Gadsby did for stand-up comedy in her special Nanette—lay bare its essentially male mechanism and then, with great precision, blow it up ... But The Heroine With 1001 Faces is not that kind of book. Not a guide to gynocentric plot-building—more of a roaming miscellany of heroines across the ages ... Transformations and metamorphoses have been undergone since then; reckonings and vindications have occurred. But the wages of heroism, real heroism—they don’t change.
... erudite but frustratingly unfocused ... The Heroine With 1001 Faces wanders aimlessly over the vast territory she stakes out for it, ranging from the folklore of Western, Native American and Asian cultures to 19th-century novels, biography, movies and TV. The book is a treasure trove of examples in search of an argument. In the epilogue, when the reader hopes to find some synthesis of what’s come before, Tatar is still introducing new material on a hodgepodge of subjects ... If Tatar’s response to Campbell is simply a catalog of various heroines and their excellences, she has fallen into a category error ... The Heroine With 1001 Faces does not present its readers with a similarly well-defined alternative narrative [to Campbell's 'hero's journey'], let alone one with the same resonance ... Nevertheless, Tatar has done her research, and while meandering through her notes she occasionally bumps into the components of such a story, one rooted in the lives traditionally led by women ... she seems on the verge of discerning a narrative there, but it is a destination at which she never arrives.
The 'hero's journey' gets a much-needed makeover ... Tatar incisively explores women's reinvention of heroism to embrace empathy, compassion, and care, often to pursue social justice ... [An] engaging study ... he text is illustrated with many reproductions of paintings and other artwork...that add much to the text ... This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.
[A] rewarding if scattershot literary history ... The overarching conversational tone and modern-day relevance give the book color, but the pace is uneven: while the arguments are well supported with plenty of examples pulled from all corners of literature, Tatar jumps between subjects in an enthusiastic flurry that can be difficult to follow. Literature buffs who can deal with the sometimes-dizzying effect will find much to consider.