A World of Tricksters

Ebook published 1 April 2020

Cover by Fiona Dowling: The Narrow-striped Kern.

Foreword by Dr Bairbre Ní Fhloinn, lecturer in Irish Folklore and Ethnology in the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, University College Dublin.

The figure of the trickster is a cultural universal which survives and thrives into the present, often telling us more about ourselves than about the characters in the stories. Ambivalence and ambiguity are the order of the day as the trickster emerges as hero and villain at one and the same time, providing a unique insight into the human psyche and into our deepest desires and fantasies.
(from the Foreword)

154 stories from 29 countries. Most are myths or folk tales; some are factual.

Stories about tricks are entertaining, but they carry a serious message for the young, weak, vulnerable, and socially disadvantaged: it is possible to overcome bullying, whether institutional or personal, or at least counter its effects.

This lesson is encoded in narratives for a good reason: “There are some areas of the mind which can only be reached with stories, because they penetrate deep into the subconscious, like ink dripped on to blotting paper” (Idries Shah).


Native American Trickster Gods
Dais-Imid (He of the Little Shell)
Paup-Puk-Keewiss (Grasshopper)
Raccoon and the Blind Men
How Coyote Stole Fire
Coyote Tricked by Mice
Why Mount Shasta Erupted

Caucasian Trickster Demi-gods: The Narts
Sosruko Fetches Fire
Shirdon and the Giants

Irish Trickster Gods
Gobán Saor and the King of Spain
The Narrow-striped Kern

Tricking the Devil
How the Devil Made the Lousberg
The Devil’s Wager
The Man with No Shadow
Sæmundr the Learned and the Devil
The Bridges at Soravilla and Oiartzun
Perurimá Saves the Holy Family

The Lion and the Hare
The Goat and the Lion
The Monkey’s Heart
The Monkey and the Turtle
Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom
The Eagle and the Dung Beetle
King of the Birds
The Caged Bird
How a Dog Brought Rice to Humans
The Farmer and the Wolf and the Three Judges
You can’t trust anyone

Ameen and the Ghoul
The Birds of Cirencester
The Black Pig’s Dyke
O Ciprianillo: The Book of San Cipriano
Daniel O’Connell
Curran and the Innkeeper
King Matthias the Just
Digging for Treasure
The Doctor and Death
The Fairy Fort Is on Fire
The Father of Farts
Five Eggs
Nasruddin Hodja and His Cousins
The Inconstant Widow

Irish Highwaymen, Tories and Rapparees
Redmond O’Hanlon
Billy Peters and Cathair na gCapall
Patrick Fleming

Latin American Tricksters
The Caboclo and the Cheese
Pedro Urdemales

Charlie Meyers and the Barewalker
On the Scent of a Thief
The Pardoner’s Tale
The Bossy Woman
The Perfect Wife
The Postman from Purgatory
The Three Riddles of the King Who Went Mad

Saints and Sieges
Death of Oleg
Death of Igor
Olga’s Revenge
Kiev Under Siege
Olga and Vladimir Convert to Christianity
One More Siege

Women Warriors Disguised as Men
Gurdafrid Fights Sohrab
María Pérez the Manly Fights the Battler

San Martín Txiki and the Basajauns
Turning the Plaice
Two Pieces of Advice and an Empanada
White Pebble, Black Pebble
Who Owns the Bag of Silver?
Titanic Thompson
Dumb Kid
Miracle as a Trick of God
The Rebel and the Sergeant
A Bag of Irish Tricks
Trinity College
A Hare Coursing Stroke
Toss Byrne’s Stroke
A Rathnew Stroke
Bosco’s Stroke
Spading the Garden
How to Quit a Job
The Disappearing Parking Ticket Book
The Train in the Tunnel
A Trick Backfires

Murphy’s Stroke: The Gay Future Affair
Barney Curley: The Yellow Sam Coup
Barney Curley (Perhaps) Strikes Again
Getting the Lead Out
Racing Shorts

The One That Got Away (With It)
Twisting the Hay-rope
The Devil in the Dance Hall
He Was a Stranger




About the Author

Early Reviews

Richard Marsh’s A World of Tricksters is a good romp through all the facets of the trickster motif, from mythology to urban legend.
With occasional reference to Stith-Thompson’s index, Richard’s sources range from Petronius’ first century AD work, Satyricon, to his own personal recollections. Characters such as the mythical Native American Coyote to the twentieth century gambler Barney Curley fill the pages.
Think of this book as good bedtime reading. The stories are short and the laughs come quickly. Richard’s observations and dry humor add to the book’s enjoyment.
Charles Kiernan, American storyteller

A fantastic resource – chock full of great stories and essential, well researched background material. Just what I need!
Jill Lamede, The Tintagel Storyteller, England

This book is a Storyteller’s delight. Trickster tales from around the world supplemented with rich notes, discussion of sources and informative introductions make this an exhaustive encyclopaedia to include in the Storyteller’s repertoire.
Professor Vinita Dhondiyal Bhatnagar
Rajiv Gandhi Technological University, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh. India.

This book is a treasure trove of trickster stories from around the world and a great resource for teachers, tellers, and lovers of story.
MyLinda Butterworth, American storyteller and award-winning author of The Monster Run

Lost in another world, or rather worlds, I was taken away with Richard Marsh’s latest. A World of Tricksters is like a nice bottle of whiskey to be savored one, or two, delicious tastes at a time. Or go ahead and binge a little! Either way, you’ll find some familiar but mostly new stories of how cleverness and intelligence triumph.
In clear prose, A World of Tricksters gives us little known stories from several cultures, traditional to contemporary urban legends. As a long-time resident of America’s north woodlands, I particularly enjoyed reading Ojibwe folktales alongside Asian, South American, African and European tales celebrating wit and intelligence.
Yvonne Healy, American storyteller
Member of Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos – International Storytelling Network

With wit and a somewhat twisted sense of humor, A World of Tricksters will delight you but at the same time make you wonder: who is the real trickster? Tricksters will make you laugh, they’ll make you wonder. But be careful, for they may make even you stumble.
Professor María Alejandra Gómez de la Torre Barúa
(To whom I am grateful for pointing out an embarrassing typo.)
English teacher and storyteller, Peru
Member of Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos – International Storytelling Network