Tuesday, 11 February 2020

The White Bear Sitting on Father’s Tunic

There was once upon a time a husband and wife who had three daughters. Then there was one day when the man been mowing, that he had left his tunic in the field. So he said to his eldest daughter:

“Go for my tunic!” he said. “I forgot it in the mown field when I came home this evening.” The girl went. But when she came to take the tunic, a white bear sat on it.

“Get off my father’s tunic, bear!” she said.

“Well, will you have me?” said the white bear.

“No, do you think I will have you, a bear of the forest?” she said.

Well, then she would have no tunic, and home she came without it, and said it was because she couldn’t find the tunic.

“Go for my tunic, you,” he said to his middle daughter. “I forgot it in the mown field when I came home this evening.”

So the girl went. But when she came to take the tunic, the white bear sat on it.

“Get off my father’s tunic, bear!” she said.

“Well, will you have me?” said the white bear.

“No, do you think I will have you, a bear of the forest?” she said.

Well, then she would have no tunic, and she had to turn for home without, and said it was because she couldn’t find it.

“Go for my tunic, you, the prettiest of my children,” said the man to his youngest daughter.

So she went on her way. But on the tunic sat the white bear.

“Get off my father’s tunic, bear!” she said.

“Well, will you have me?” said the white bear.

“Yes, I will have you!” said the girl, and then she straightway got the tunic.

“On the evening of the first Thursday I will come to fetch you,” said the white bear.

When the girl came home with her father’s tunic, he praised her beyond measure for how good she was. But her sisters murmured and said she had promised herself to the white bear.

On the evening of the first Thursday, there was a knocking at the man’s door, and he went out himself. There stood the white bear outside.

“Your youngest daughter has promised me,” he said, “and now she will go with me.”

But the man held his youngest daughter so dear that he did not have the heart to let her go, and so he sent out his eldest instead.

“Sit on my back!” said the bear; and she climbed up, so frightened that she didn’t even think of living any more.

“Have you ever sat so softly?” said the bear.

“No,” said the girl.

“Which is whiter, milk or the day?” he said.

“Milk,” said the girl.

When they had been riding far and at length, they came to a castle, and there she should stay. She got the keys and could go into three chambers. She should stay in the third chamber, and it was as fine and as beautiful as could be, draped with silk and full of silver and gold, and a table spread with costly food and drink. She ate and drank, and she lay in the finest feather bed there was for the night. But the white bear lay beneath the stove. During the night he became a man and came up into her bed, and the girl was so scared that she lay as still as she could. But the day had hardly begun to dawn before the man was a white bear again.

“Sit on my back now,” said the white bear, “and you shall be allowed to go home today. You’re not the right one,” he said, and he took her home. And at home she told everything that had happened to her, and all the finery she had seen.

The following Thursday evening, the white bear knocked at the man’s door.

“Your youngest daughter promised me,” he said, “and now she will go with me.”

The man was loath, but he had to let her go, there was nothing else to do.

“Sit on my back!” said the white bear. And she climbed up on to his back and was not frightened at all.

“Have you ever sat so softly?” said the bear.

“Yes, on my mother’s lap I sat more softly,” said the girl.

“Which is whiter, milk or the day?” he said.

“The day,” said the girl.

Then they rode until they came to the castle. And he gave her the keys to every room.

“You may freely go into every room, only not that one!” he said, showing her a door far to one side. Yes, she promised. And then she let herself into three chamber, and in the third she should stay. It was so stately, with a spread table and a made up bed, and silver and gold and everything. She ate and drank, and she lay in the finest feather bed there was for the night. But the white bear lay beneath the stove. During the night he became a man and came up into her bed. She lay still, never turning over, and hardly dared to glance in that direction. But in the morning, he was a white bear, as before.

“Well, if you will stay here with me, you will never grow weary of it,” said the white bear. “You’re the right one,” he said.

And she was there for three equinoxes, and each night the white bear came and got into bed, and she was so curious to see what he was like. But during the day she went from room to room and unlocked every chamber, and each one was finer than the other. But there was one room she dared not unlock.

However, on the third day she couldn’t help herself any longer, and there sat a witch inside. She it was who had transformed the man into white bear.

When the white bear came home from the forest and saw how things stood, he said to the girl:

“You didn’t do as I said!” he said. “Now I must take you home today. But you must not listen to what your mother says,” he said. “Listen to your father instead!”

She promised well, and then the white bear trundled home with her. There she talked about everything she had seen and how fine everything was at the bear’s castle.

“Yes, obey the white bear in everything he says,” her father said. But her mother called her aside.

“Have you never seen the white bear, what he’s like in the form of a man?” she said.

No, she never had.

“Here’s a candle stub. When he sleeps, you can shine a light on him, he won’t even notice,” she said.

But during the night she held up the candle to him, and saw he was the most handsome king’s son she had ever seen. Alas, a drop of tallow fell on to his shirt, and then he woke up.

“Why did you not do as I told you, heeding your father and not your mother?” he said. “Now I must put the witch alongside you, and the one who solves the task I set, it is she must I take for a bride,” he said.

Then he set the task for them.

“Whichever of you can wash this drop of tallow from my shirt, so that it is as clean as it was before, she shall I have,” he said.

Now the witch should wash it first. But howsoever she rubbed and washed, the stain grew larger and blacker. When the girl began to wash, the stain disappeared as if it had never been there, and the shirt had never been so white.

Then the bear’s form fell from him, and with that the enchantment was broken.

Now they prepared a wedding both stiff and strong, and as the king and queen and the whole bridal company sat at table, the king’s son said:

“What sentence should one suffer, who throws a bear’s form on to a man to gain power over him?”

Then the witch herself answered:

“Such folk should be thrown among twelve crazy horses!” she said.

Then the king commanded them to cast the witch into the garden and release his twelve crazy horses. They did so, and the witch was so trampled that not even a rag could be found of her.

Then they celebrated for four fortnights, and two small days and one little day, and if they haven’t finished celebrating, then they are celebrating still.

— Rikard Berge. Norske Folkeeventyr, Kristiania: J. W. Cappelens Forlag, 1914. (Probably collected in Seljord, 1910.)

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Hans of Clubs

There was once a king who had three daughters whom he loved greatly. But they had, all of them, been taken into the mountain, and a mighty grief and sorrow fell upon both the king and all his realm. And the king promised that he who could save them would receive the one among them he desired to wife. Well, all the finest in all the land went out to search for the princesses, as you can understand, but every one of them returned empty-handed, and none of them had heard or asked anything. When all the foremost folk had been out, then there was also a captain and a lieutenant who wanted to go out and try to find them. Well, they went, but they had hardly come outside the door of the king’s farm before a soldier came to the king, who said that he too would out to look for the princesses.

“What?” said the king. “I hope you are not thinking of winning any of the princesses. It is best you go home again, for you will not find them anyway; besides, I have sent out some today. But if my emissaries cannot find them, and you still want to go, then you shall be allowed to go another day.”

But the soldier insisted. “I want to go today, I do,” he said; “I do not care so much to win the princesses; just give me a sack of good food, good meat and flesh.”

“Oh well,” said the king, “you may go out into the kitchen and tell the kitchen girl.”

The soldier then went out into the kitchen and asked the kitchen girl for good meat and flesh. He got a good sack of food, and then he left, and he had not gone for long before he caught up with the captain and the lieutenant. The captain saw that he was a soldier, and asked where he was going. “I am going out to search for the princesses, I am, captain,” replied the soldier, striking his cap.

“Then it is best that you go with us,” said the captain, “for we are on the same errand.”

So they became a company; but when they had gone for a while, the soldier left the great road and took a narrow path through the forest.

“No, no, where are you going now?” said the captain. “It is best we follow the great road.”

“That may be,” replied the soldier, “but this is the way my path falls.” Then he went on his way, and the others turned and followed. They walked, and they walked, until they eventually came to a great bridge.

There stood a bear. “What shall we do now?” said the captain as the bear reared up on to two legs and came roaring towards them. “We will never get past this.”

“Oh, I’ve heard that the bear is supposed to be wild for meat,” said the soldier, “and here in the sack I have a whole hind quarters and some other small things.” Then he picked out a large piece of meat and threw it to the bear, and in this manner they passed it by.

But a lion stood on the other end of the bridge, which roared at them, gaping, as if would devour them alive. “Well, now it’s best we turn around and hurry home again,” said the captain, and the lieutenant thought the same, “for we will never pass this, for the world,” they said.

“Oh,” said the soldier, I’ve heard that the lion will do almost anything for a piece of flesh to eat, and I have half a pig in the sack. Then he threw a ham to the lion, and so they were able to pass it by, too.

When they had walked a long way, they saw a magnificent great castle; there they went in, and when they came in it was even finer on the inside. But there was no living man in the whole castle, nor was there a crumb of food to be found, and both the captain and the lieutenant complained and carried on because they were so hungry.

“Well,” said the soldier, “were it not a shame to offer such fine folk a simple farmer’s food, I would offer them a little meat and flesh, for I have it in my food sack.” Then they were glad, and ate so much meat and flesh that there was nearly nothing left.

The following day the captain told the soldier that it would be best they went hunting, for around the castle lay a large forest full of hares and birds, and rifles and powder there were at the castle. The lieutenant stayed home to look after the house. They went hunting, and shot so much game that they could hardly manage to carry it all home.

But when they got to the gate, the lieutenant was almost unable to open up to them, so poorly was he. And when they asked him how it had happened, he told them that when they had left, an old man with a long beard came staggering to him, on two crutches. “And he asked me for a penny,” he said, “and I gave it to him too. But he had hardly taken it before he dropped it, and I felt pity for the poor old thing, that he should struggle so to pick it up, so I bent down to pick it up. And then he began on me with the crutches and beat me for as long as I lay there.”

“Oh, may you be ashamed to say that you have been beaten by such an old cripple,” said the captain. “Tomorrow I shall stay at home, and then he shall certainly get it, so he’ll have the good of it.”

The next day, the lieutenant and the soldier went hunting. But things did not go better with the captain; thank God they didn’t go any worse! When he had waited a while, the man came and asked for a penny. He got it, and then he dropped it, and then he asked the captain to help him pick it back up. Well, he got down on all fours, and then the man began to strike him with his crutches, and each time the captain rose to take hold of him, he received a blow that caused him to black out. When the others returned home, he lay on the floor still, unable to move so much as a joint, and it was a long time before he was well enough to tell how things had gone.

On the third day, the soldier was to stay at home, and the other two were to go hunting. The captain then admonished him, saying that he must be careful of the old man; he was afraid he might even kill him, he said.

“Oh, it won’t be dangerous,” said the soldier, “whoever takes a beating from such an old duffer is worth no more,” he said.

It wasn’t long before the man came and begged, “Dear God, give me a shilling!”

“I have never had any money,” said the soldier; “but if you will chop some wood, you shall have some food when I make it.”

“No, I cannot,” replied the man.

“If you cannot, then you can learn,” said the soldier. “It’s easy enough; follow me down into the shed.” There he split a large log and drove a wedge into it, and when this was done he bade the man to lie down and aim along the crack, for then he would certainly learn to chop wood.

Well, the man lay down, and then his long beard went into the crack. The soldier, who had been counting on this, hurried to pull out the wedge, swung his axe above the head of the man, and said: “If you do not immediately tell me where the princesses are, I shall cut your head off.”

“Oh no! Oh no! Spare my life,” said the man, “and you shall know everything. East of the castle there is a large heap of sand, and down in the heap there is a winch with which you can lower yourself down, but if you get scared and dare not go all the way down, then you need only to pull the bell string that you’ll find down there, and you’ll come right up again. But dare you venture so far that you come all the way down, then you shall see a bottle standing there on a shelf above the door, and you must drink what is in it, so you will grow strong enough to chop the mountain troll’s head off. And on the door hangs a troll’s sword, which you must also take, for no other steel bites at him.”

When he had learned all this, he let the man go again. After a while, the captain and the lieutenant came home, and they were not a little surprised when they saw the soldier alive.

“Dear me!” they said. “How did you escape the beating? Hasn’t the man been here?”

“Yes, he is a perfectly kind man, he is,” said the soldier. “He told me where the princesses are.” And then he told them everything. They were very glad to hear it, and when they had eaten, all three went to the heap. The captain got on first and let them wind him down. But down there it was so terrible and dark that when he had come a little way down, he dared not go any further, but pulled the bell string. Immediately he went up again.

Now the lieutenant got on; but things went no better with him either. When he had come down a bit, he got scared, pulled the bell string, and then the winch pulled him up again.

Then the soldier got on, and let it go until he came to the bottom. Then he took down the bottle, drank up what was it it, grasped the sword and then went in – and there sat the youngest princess, nitpicking the mountain troll; but the two elder sat playing with a strange game.

Meanwhile, he crept over and chopped off the troll’s head, and then the princesses were so happy that there was no end to it.

Then he rang the bell, and the lieutenant and the captain pulled up the princesses, one after the other. When this was done, the soldier thought he had acted very foolishly, because he had not let them wind him up first; for he could not know whether or not the captain and the lieutenant would do away with him and see to be rid of him; so he put a large stone in the basket, and when they had wound it up halfway, they let go of the rope, and the stone fell down, so that it thumped to the floor. The soldier could clearly hear that they were saying up there that the soldier was now dead, and that they threatened to take the princesses’ lives, if they refused to say they had saved them. The elder two were immediately willing to do so; but the youngest, she did not want to, not by any means, and so they threatened that they should lock her in the castle and leave her there alone.

The soldier was now dreadfully sorrowful, for he fully and firmly believed that he would never again see the day or meet any men, and so he walked around all the magnificent gilded chambers, which were so full of gold and silver that no one can tell how fine it was. It was now terribly boring for him to be so alone down there now, and to pass the time, he went and looked at everything, opening all the drawers and cupboards, and wondering at all the strange and splendid things that were there. At length he pulled out a desk drawer, and in it lay a pack of playing cards. He began to look at it and leaf through it, for all the picture cards were so finely painted and gilded, and while he was standing and leafing through them, he also named the cards to himself. “Hans of Clubs,” he said when he saw the knave of clubs.

Then a man came up and said, “What does my lord have to command?”

“Oh, now that I have something to say,” said the soldier, “then I would like you to bring me out of this hole into the light of day again.” He had hardly said it before he was up, and then he went straight to the castle; and when he arrived, he saw the youngest princess, sitting weeping at the window. And the castle was closed and locked on all sides. “Hans of Clubs!” he said.

“What does my Lord have to command?” said Hans of Clubs, coming running.

“Fetch the princess and bring her down here,” said the soldier. Well, he did so, and then he took her all the way to the gate of the king’s farm, where he left her. And in the king’s farm there was such joy that the princess had returned that there was no measure of that either. The soldier, he went away and bound himself to a goldsmith.

The elder princesses now held a wedding, with the captain and lieutenant, and they were almost never happy, but continually wept and were sorrowful. The king did not like it, and finally he asked them why they wept and were so sad; they had been saved from the troll, after all, and he thought everything was well and good.

“Ah, we can never be happy if we do not have a game such as we had in the Blue Mountain,” said the eldest princess. The king thought he would probably be able to get hold of one for them, and so he sent messengers to all the best goldsmiths across the land, saying that they should make a game for the princesses, such as they had in the Blue Mountain. Well, they certainly tried, but none was able to make such a game. At length there were no goldsmiths left other than the one with whom the soldier worked, and so the king sent messengers to him, saying that he should make a game for the princesses, such as they had in the Blue Mountain, and if he could not do so, he would be killed. The goldsmith had to take the gold with him, but when he got home, he was choked from weeping, and he was so upset about it that he said he wanted to leave and do away with himself, immediately. He could not save his life anyway, for if the best goldsmiths throughout the land could not make such a game, then he certainly couldn’t do it.

“Don’t worry about it,” said the soldier, “but give me the gold, and I’ll certainly fetch the game,” but then he went and threw the gold into the river. And the goldsmith grew so upset that he almost lost his mind.

“Why would you do that?” he said to the soldier; “if I’d had the gold to give back, I might just have saved my life; but now it is not even worth begging for.”

“Don’t worry about anything, you,” said the soldier, “I shall fetch you the game. I shall!”

“Hans of Clubs!” he cried.

“What does my Lord have to command?” said Hans of Clubs, coming running so that he panted.

“Fetch me the golden game that the princesses had to play with in the Blue Mountain, at once.” He had hardly said it before he was there again with it. Hans of Clubs did not spend a long time on the road, he didn’t. The goldsmith was so happy that he did not know which leg to stand on; and even happier were the princesses when he came up to the castle with the game.

“Did you make the game yourself, then?” asked the youngest princess.

“No, to tell the truth,” he said, “I did not, but there is one who is bound to me who has made it.”

“Him I have a great desire to see,” said the princess, for she understood it could be none other than the soldier. Yes, the king told the goldsmith to fetch him, and as soon as he entered through the door of king’s farm the youngest princess said: “There is he who saved us from the troll, and I will have him for a husband!”

What they did to the captain and lieutenant, I don’t really remember, but the soldier, he held a wedding with the youngest princess, and they both lived well from that time forth.

— “Kløverhans” by P. Chr. Asbjørnsen, first published in Billed-Magazin for Børn. Redigeret af M. C. Hansen og K. D. Knutzen. Første Aargang. Med 100 Afbildninger. Christiania: Guldberg & Dzwonkowski, 1838. https://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-nb_digibok_2012042713002.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Furry-puss

Once upon a time, in olden days there was a king who had become a widower. He had a daughter, gorgeous above measure, for whom he had built a maiden’s lodge, in which none but old maids were allowed to set foot. Close by there lived a Troll-witch, which had command over all animals, over both the birds, the fish and the four-legged beasts.

When the princess once was ill, the witch blew all the four-legged beasts to with her whistle, milked them, and made a porridge from the milk, which the princess ate with good appetite. But some time later, the something went wrong with the princess: she fell fertile, and the king was so angry that he struck the table and swore that if the child were ugly, then both and the mother would be made an end of; but if it was beautiful, it would be allowed to live. When the princess had given birth, the child resembled all kinds of animals: it was furry all over, and the only manner in which it resembled a human being was that it could speak, which it did as soon as it arrived. The child was called Furry-puss, and both it and the mother were exposed on the sea in a glass barrel, to be carried wherever the wind would take them. They took a sack of food with them, which lasted for some days, but when the food was finished, Furry-puss said: “Now I think we should wish to make land, Ma.”

“Yes,” she replied, “if you can do that, and it will help us, then do it in the name of God.” He wished it, and had hardly spoken before they landed by a meadow barn.

“Now, you stay here, Ma,” said Furry-puss, “while I go up to the king’s farm and get some food and work for you – can you spin?”

“Spin? I? No, I don’t know what that is,” said the princess.

He went to king’s farm anyway, and went in to the cook, who threw some bones to him. “No, I don’t want this,” he said. “I want the food they eat at the king’s table, and then let me talk to the queen.” As the cook couldn’t come any way with him, she went in and said that there was a strange one out in the kitchen who absolutely wanted to talk to the queen. When she came out to the kitchen, Furry-puss asked for some spinning for his mother.

“What is your mother like, then?” asked the queen.

“Oh, my Ma is like me, and I am like my Ma,” he replied. Then he got some tow to spin and some food from the king’s own table.

“Now I have some food and spinning for you,” he cried, “and here, I have borrowed a spinner’s weasel; now get to spinning.”

“But I can’t spin at all; I don’t know if I’ve even set eyes on a spinning wheel!” said the princess.

“Then I can help you,” he said, and laid first a layer of firewood, then a layer of tow, then a layer of firewood again, and so on; this he lit on fire, and then began to wind skeins, and it was the most beautiful silver thread one could possibly see. He went with it to king’s farm and got food and asked for more spinning for his Ma.

“What is your mother like, then?” asked the queen.

“Oh, my Ma is like me, and I am like my Ma.”

Then the queens thought that whoever could spin such a thread from tow, must also be able to spin flax. This time he got a pound of flax. “Now I have some food and some spinning for you,” said Furry-puss, when he came home. “Now you can get to spinning.”

“But I can’t spin at all,” said the princess, “after all, I have never taken a spinner’s weasel in my hands.”

“Well, I can help you,” said Furry-puss, and he laid a layer of firewood, and a layer of flax, set fire to it and spun the most gorgeous golden thread.

This was the queen well pleased with, and she asked Furry-puss if his mother could also embroider three night caps for the princes who were soon to go a-courting. Yes, he thought she certainly could, and he brought with him gold thread and some silk for these caps, which should be finished the following day.

The princess knew how to embroider, but she couldn’t finish them so soon, so Furry-puss had to wish for them. When he came up to king’s farm with the caps, the princes came down into the kitchen to see this strange fellow, and he then asked them if he might be allowed to join them when they went a-courting.

“What does such a srange fellow have to do there?” they all said.

“Who knows,” said Furry-puss, “I might be more useful to you than you think; if you do not want me as I now appear, then I shall transform myself to look like a dog and go sniffing after you.”

The two eldest still refused him, but the youngest said, “Can’t he be allowed to come along, since he really wants to?” Then he was allowed to go along, and went behind the horses like a dog.

Eventually they came to the king’s farm, where they intended to go a-courting, where there lived three gorgeous princesses. Many suitors had been there, both kings and princes, and they had all been rejected — or so people thought — but the king and queen had killed them and stolen both their suitor gifts and all they had.

That night, the princes were to sleep in a large hall in which there were six beds: the princes should lie in three, and the princesses in the other three.

A while before bedtime Furry-puss came to them and told them how things had gone with all the suitors who had been there before them, and then he said, “Now I heard the king and the queen talking, and they said they would come and chop off your heads after you have fallen asleep; but if one of you will take Ma, then all of you shall be saved.”

“Take your Ma?” they all asked at once. “What is she like?”

Furry-puss had only one answer: “Oh, my Ma is like me, and I am like my Ma.”

“What are you saying?” they said. “If your Ma is like you, then how can you believe any of us would want her?”

Furry-puss insisted: “My Ma is like me, and I am like my Ma. So hurry up now,” he said, “else it will be too late.”

“I suppose I should take her, then,” said the youngest, who was most afraid of losing his life. Now Furry-puss put the princesses into a heavy slumber, and put the princes’ nightcaps on them, and put them in the princes’ beds, while the princes lay in the princesses’.

After a little while, the king and queen came; the king went with a great sword in his hands and would chop at the straightway. “Stay a little,” said the queen, who carried the candle. “Let us look first.”

“No, certainly not,” said the king, “you know that we cannot go wrong, and if you light them, I am afraid they may awaken; it’s best that we hurry,” and then he cut off the heads of all three princesses, and when it was done, he and the queen left.

“Now we must leave, because it is not good to stay here,” said Furry-puss, upon which he wanted them out of the castle and took horses from the stables so that they could return home.

When they returned to the king’s farm, Furry-puss said: “Now you make ready a wedding, because the youngest prince shall have my Ma.”

“Yes, we know he must have your Ma,” the elder princes said.

When Furry-puss came home, he said to his mother: “Tomorrow you must get ready to marry, Ma; the youngest prince has promised to take you, and you shall have a wedding with him.”

“Shall I have a wedding?” said the princess. “What is this talk, now? I hardly have any clothes on my body.”

“He promised me he would take you, and he shall keep it, too, and I’ll take care of your clothes.” Then he wished for a dress for her – gleaming and shining as the sun – and a carriage, and horses and full tack.

They travelled to king’s farm, but when they got there, the prince would not go down to receive her. The elder princes laughed at him and said, “But you must go down and receive your bride-to-be!” He went and they followed to see what she looked like.

But when they opened the carriage door and saw how gorgeous she was, they almost began to fight, for they all wanted her. But Furry-puss said, “No you will not have her; but he to whom I promised, he shall have her. So shall it be.”

Before they should eat dinner, Furry-puss said to his mother: “You shall be kept and happy; now you shall be able to make it so that I can also look like a human. When the seventh course arrives at the table, you must take care to go out into the kitchen where I am. On the bench there lies a big knife; you must take it and cut my head off with it, and so I too shall become like folk.”

“How could I have the heart to do that?” the princess asked. “I cannot do that it at all.”

“You must do it anyway,” said Furry-puss, “for there is scarcely any salvation for me any other way.”

But in her joy she did not remember it until the seventh course was taken off the table; then she got up and went out, and met him at the door. “It’s too late now,” he said, going over to the window, and puncturing the lead with a needle (this was in the olden days, when there were leaded windows). “Either you or I must leave through here,” he said.

“It must certainly be you,” replied the princess, “for it is impossible for any man to get through here.” Then he contorted himself out through the hole, and stood there as the most handsome prince, much more handsome than any of the three whom he had saved.

— “Puselodden” by P. Chr. Asbjørnsen, taken from P. Chr. (Peter Christen) Asbjørnsen, B. (Bernt) Moe, P.T. (Peter Tidemand) Malling. Nor : en Billedbog for den norske Ungdom. Indeholdende: Store og gode Handlinger af Nordmænd; norske Folkesagn og Eventyr. Med 6 illuminerede Kobbere. Christiania: Guldberg & Dzwonkowskis Forlag, 1838.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

South of the South and North of the North, by the Great Golden Mountain

There was once upon a time a farmer who had a wheat field which was trampled upon every Saturday evening. Now the farmer had three sons, and he bade that one would hide himself in the field one Saturday evening, and see who it was who trampled down the field. The eldest boy should be the first to try. He hid himself on the bar at the edge of the field, but when he had lain there for a while, he fell asleep. In the morning, the whole field was trampled down, but the boy could not give an account of anything.

Then the second boy should go on his way, but things went the same way with him. When he had been hiding by the field for a while, he fell asleep, and in the morning he could not give an account of how the field had been trampled down.

Then it was Oskefisen’s turn to set off. He did not lie down on the bar, but below it, and he stayed awake. When he had lain there for a while, three doves came flying. They lighted on the field, and just like that they all shook off all their feathers. Then they became the finest maidens anyone could want to see. They danced together, across the whole field, and as they did so, the boy gathered up all their feathers.

When the day began to dawn, they looked around for their feathers, but they could not find them. They grew aghast, wept and searched, and searched and wept. At last they found the boy and asked for their feathers back. “Why are you dancing in our wheat field?” replied the boy.

“Oh, it is not we who want to,” they replied, “but the troll who has transformed us sends us here each Saturday evening, to trample down the field. But let us have our feathers, for now the day is dawning.” And then they begged him so beautifully.

“Well, I’m not sure about that,” the boy said. “You’ve trampled down so terribly much of our field. If only I could have the one I wanted of you.”

“Yes, we would like that,” they replied. “But it will not do, for there are three trolls who keep us, one with three heads, and the second with six and the third with nine, and they kill everyone who comes to the mountain.” But the boy said that he liked one of them so much that he would try. Then he chose the middle one, for he thought she was most beautiful, and so he got her ring and put it on his hand. Immediately after, the maidens put on their dove forms and flew back to the forest and the mountain.

When the boy got home, he told everything he had seen. “And now I shall go to try my luck,” he said. “I don’t know if I will ever return, but I must try.”

“Oh you, Oskefisen!” said his brothers, smirking at him.

“Oh well, it’s all the same, if I’m good for nothing,” replied Oskefisen, “but I have to try.”

The boy then went on his way, looking for the place where the maidens dwelled, for they had told him quietly: “South of the South and North of the North, by the Great Golden Mountain.”

When he had walked for a while, he met two poor boys, who stood arguing over a pair of old shoes and a walking stick, which they had inherited after their mother. The boy said he thought it was a little to be arguing about, for he had both better shoes and a better stick at home. “No, you haven’t,” they said, “for whoever who puts on these shoes, can take 1000 leagues in a single stride, and whatever you point at with this stick will immediately die,” they said.

The boy asked if they would sell them. No, it would take a lot before they would sell them. “But it’s just not true, what they say,” said the boy.

“It most certainly is true,” they said.

“Let me see if they will lend me the shoes,” said the boy. Yes he should be allowed to try them on. And when the boy had put the shoes on and taken the stick in his hand, he took a stride, and he was immediately 1,000 leagues away.

A while afterwards, he met two boys arguing over a fiddle they had inherited. “Is that something to argue over,” said the boy; “I have a shiny new fiddle at home, I do,” he said.

“But there is not such a melody in yours as there is in ours,” said the two boys, “for if someone is dead, and you play on this fiddle, then he will awaken.”

“That is something!” said the boy. “May I be allowed to play a stroke on it?” Yes, he would be allowed, but he had barely taken the fiddle in his hand before he took a stride, and with that he was immediately 1000 leagues away.

A while afterwards, he met an old man and asked him if he knew where it was, the place called South of the South and North of the North, by the Great Golden Mountain. Yes, he knew it, but getting there wouldn’t help him, for the trolls killed all the people who went there. “Oh, I must dare, no matter whether it leads to life or to death,” said the boy, for he held the maiden he had seen so dear. So the old man gave him directions, and finally he came to the mountain. Here there were three chambers to pass through, before one entered the parlour where the virgins were, and strong locks there were on all four doors, and a watchman stood before each door. But the boy set off on his way.

“Where are you off to?” asked the first watchman.

“Oh, I’m going in to the maidens,” said the boy.

“Well, in you may go, but out again you never will come,” replied the watchman, “for the troll is coming soon.” The boy thought that he would try anyway. And he was allowed to pass. Then he came to the second watchman.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Oh, I’m going in to the maidens,” said the boy.

“Well, in you may go, but out again you never will come, for the troll is coming soon,” said the watchman.

“I think I shall try anyway,” said the boy. And so he was allowed to pass. Then he came to the third watchman.

“Where are you off to?” he asked.

“Oh, I am going in to the maidens,” replied the boy.

“Well, in you may go, but out again you never will come, for the troll is coming soon,” said the watchman.

“I think I shall try anyway,” said the boy. And so he was allowed to pass there, too.

Then he came in to the innermost parlour, where the maidens sat. And so fine and beautiful they were, and the room was so full of gold and silver that the boy would never had imagined. Then he showed forth the ring and asked if they knew him, yes they knew both him and the ring. “But you poor thing; now our time is up, both yours and ours, too,” they said. “Now the troll with three heads is coming, it would be best you hid behind the door.”

“Oh, I am so afraid, so afraid!” said the maiden, whom the boy should have.

“You won’t have to lament for me,” said the boy. “I think I’ll do well enough for us.”

Suddenly the troll came and stuck its three heads in through the door. “Uff, here it smells of a Christian man’s blood!” it said. The boy stabbed the heads with the walking stick, and it soon died. Then they had the body dragged away and hidden.

A while afterwards, the troll with six heads came. “Uff, here it smells of a Christian man’s blood!” it said. “They let in anybody, nowadays. But what has become of the other fellow?” he said; he did not see the troll with three heads.

“He hasn’t come yet,” said the maidens.

“He must have come,” said the troll, “but I supposed he’s off looking for the one whom they let in.” Suddenly the boy stabbed at all its heads with the walking stick, and it soon lay dead on the floor. Then they did away with the body.

A while afterwards, the troll with nine heads came in. “Uff, here it smells of a Christian man’s blood!” it said in a rage. “Where are the other fellows?”

“They haven’t come yet,” said the maidens.

“Yes, they have come,” said the troll, “but I suppose they are searching for the Christian man they have let in.” Just like that the boy sprang forward and to strike with the walking stick, at one head after the other; but he didn’t get any further than the eighth, then he fled; the troll got the advantage of him, and he escaped through the door. The troll was so angry that it nearly burst. It took and killed all the maidens and then looked around for the boy. The boy had hidden himself behind a huge stone, and when the troll came faring so that the sparks flew from it, the boy struck the last head, so the troll rolled on to the ground. Then the boy ran in again, took out his fiddle and played, and then all the maidens were revived.

Now they should go home, but they didn’t know how to find their way on the long journey. “But I know,” said the boy. “I will take you on my back one at a time, and then I will make quick work of the journey.” And he did so. And then he brought home all silver and gold that was to be found in the mountain. And then he held a wedding with the middle maiden, and are they not dead, then yet they live!


— Kristofer Janson. Folke-Eventyr, uppskrivne i Sandeherad. Fortalde paa Landsmaal. Med Utgreidingar og Upplysningar av Moltke Moe. Kristiania. Det Norske Samlags Forlag. 1878.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Nisse Who Was Given New Trousers

On a farm somewhere, I think it was in Jarlsberg, they had a nisse who was very kind and helpful. But it could be that he grew angry, too, and then he was not good to share a stall with. Then he could think of putting newborn calves down in the barrel, pouring out the milk for the milkmaid, and numerous other pranks. Therefore, both the man and the milkmaid thought that it was best to give the nisse satisfaction in everything that was reasonable, and they probably didn’t regret it either. The milkmaid made sure to put the really good sour-cream porridge in the barn every holiday, and every Christmas Eve, she even put an extra pat of butter in it, so that the porridge was both fatty and good. And the man didn’t forget to put out new clothes for the nisse for the Christmas holiday, so he needn’t freeze in the cold of winter.

It was easy to see that the nisse understood all the good he received, for nowhere did the cows have it so good as on that farm, and the horses hardly need mentioning, for the nisse cared for these best of all. When the man came home, he needn’t bring in the horses; he just unharnessed them, and the nisse did the rest – putting them in the stable, rubbing them down well with straw, putting hay in the manger, and filling the water bucket. The man knew this and therefore he let the nisse care for the horses as he wished. And as he was so well pleased with the nisse in everything, one day he brought him a nice new pair of white leather trousers.

The next day, the man and the boy had been out driving, and as it was raining as if the heavens had been opened, they let the horses stand and hurried inside. They thought the nisse would bring them in as he usually did. But he who didn’t come was the nisse! They went to the window to see how things were going with the horses, and then the nisse stood in the barn doorway, so pleased with himself, with his hands pushed deep into the pocket of the his leather trousers. And he didn’t appear to be thinking about bringing the horses, now, if ever. The man grew annoyed, don’t you know, and so he went out the door and shouted, “But dear me, what does this mean? Don’t you see the horses today?”

And then the nisse struck his thighs with both hands and laughed until he almost rolled around. When he finally got his breath back he tightened himself up, put one leg forward, put his hands in his trouser pockets again and said: “Surely you don’t want me to go out in this bad weather with my new white leather trousers on, do you?”

Sunday, 3 November 2019

A Danish Tale: The Girl in the Mouse-skin Fur

[And now for something completely different: a Danish folktale collected by Christian Molbech (1783–1857). Despite the proximity of Norway and Denmark, this tale is much more courtly than the Norwegian tales. I get the feeling that it is inspired by French fairy tales.]

There was once a nobleman who had an only daughter; he led her into a great mound, and there she was to live while there was war in the land. Her father had secretly had a cabin built inside; there was food and drink and fuel for seven years. She was not to come out before he brought her forth; and if he had not come after seven years, then she would have to find her own way out, for then she would know that he was dead. Her little dog was the only company she should have. Her father kissed her farewell, comforted that he had now brought her to a safe place while the wicked militiamen were moving about the country, and then he went out with all his swains, to fight for the fatherland.

The nobleman’s daughter sat in the mound, spinning and sewing and weaving, and one year followed after another. She finished one whole garment that was wrought with silver, and another with gold; but when she neither had anything more to spin or to see to, time began to pass slowly for her. Her supplies also began run out, and she grieved for her father’s passing; when the time was nearly up, and he had not come, she could well understand that he must be dead. She then began to dig her way out of the mound, but it was slow going, and was no easy matter for her. In the meantime, her food ran out. Still, there were plenty of mice in the mound; her little dog caught some of these every day, which it bit to death. She skinned them and roasted them, ate the meat and gave her little dog the bones. And she sewed all the mouse skins together, and made herself a coat that was so large that she could quite easily hide in it.

Every day she dug on a passage in the mound, and finally she came so far that she could again see the light of day. When the opening was big enough, she came out of the mound with her faithful dog, and when she came outside, she fell to her knees and thanked God for her salvation. She then carefully closed up the mound again, and hung all the mouse skins she had left on small sticks around it, which she stuck in the ground.

The nobleman’s daughter now left the mound, and went out through the woods with her dog. Much had changed on the earth during the seven years she had lived down in the cave. She had her golden robe and her silver robe on, but on top of these she had on her mouse fur, which completely enveloped her, so that she was more like a pauper’s child than a noble maiden.

At the first house she came to, she asked who lived in the manor. “The young nobleman does,” they replied. “He who inherited it when the last one died.”

“How did he die, then?” she asked, hardly able to conceal her sorrow.

“Well, he was a brave warrior,” they said; “He chased the enemy out of the country, but in the end he fell in battle, too. His only child, a daughter, had already been carried away, and no one has heard anything of her since.” The maiden asked if they could not tell her of a place where she could go into service. “Our young nobleman will soon be married,” they said. “The bride has come to the farm with her father and mother, and they are preparing the wedding banquet. Go up there, now, and they will certainly give you enough to be carrying on with.”

The girl in the mouse-skin fur went up to her father’s manor; her little dog was very happy when he recognized the place, but the maiden wept in sorrow and humbly knocked on the door. When the folk heard that she was seeking work, they welcomed her gladly; they set her to sweep the yard and the stairs, and to some other heavy tasks. But she did everything willingly and well, so that everyone had to be satisfied with her. Many folk who passed her were also amused to look at her fine fur, but no one could see her face; she wore a large hood that hung down across her face, hiding it, and she would never turn it aside.

On the night of the wedding day, the bride let her into her room and told her that she wanted to ask her for a great favour. “You are the same size as me,” she said. “You must put on my wedding dress and bridal veil tomorrow, and go to the church and have yourself wedded to the bridegroom in my stead.” The girl in the mouse skin could not understand why the other would not have herself wedded to the handsome young nobleman. The bride then told her that there was another to whom she had already pledged her faith, but that her parents wanted to force her to marry the rich nobleman. Now she dared not contradict them. Yet she had made an arrangement with her sweetheart that on the wedding night she would fly far away with him; she could not do so if she first wedded herself to the nobleman at the altar. But if she sent another in her place, then everything could go well. The girl in the mouse skin promised to do what the bride asked of her.

The next day the bride was decked out in costly clothes, and all the people of the farm came up to her chamber to see her. Then she said at last: “Call the poor unfortunate, too, she who sweeps the yard, so that she may also see me.” The girl in the mouse-skin fur came; the bride locked herself in with her, put the beautiful clothes on her, and the bridal veil over her head; while she wrapped herself in the long, broad fur.

Afterwards, they brought the nobleman’s daughter out into the groom’s carriage, and they drove to the church with the whole wedding party. Along the way, they passed the mound where she had been hidden for so long. Then she sighed beneath her veil, saying:

“There stands still every little pin,
Upon each sits its small mouse skin,
Where hapless I sat in the mound
So many days upon unhappy ground.”

“What do you say, my heart’s desire?” asked the groom.

“Oh, I am merely speaking a little to myself,” she replied. When she stepped into the church, she saw pictures of both her parents, one on each side of the altar; but to her eyes it was as if they turned away, as she cried beneath the veil and looked at them. Then she said:

“Turn back in these fine pictures,
Turn back, my dear father and mother!”

Then the pictures turned again, and the bridegroom asked, “What are you saying, my dear bride?”

“Oh, I am merely speaking a little to myself,” she replied again.

Then they were wedded in the church. The nobleman put a ring on her finger, and they drove home again. And as soon as the bride was out of the carriage, she hurried and ran up to the maiden’s chamber, where she changed clothes with her, as they had agreed; but she kept the wedding ring she had on her finger. When she was standing in her mouse fur among the other servants, no one guessed that it was she who had but a short while before stood as bride before the altar.

In the evening there were dances, and the nobleman danced with she who was supposed to be his bride; but when he took her hand, he said, “Where is the ring that I put on your finger at church?”

Then she looked embarrassed, but answered quickly, “I took it off a moment, and left it in my chamber; but now I will run out and get it.” She then ran out, waved to the other bride and desired the ring.

“No,” said the nobleman’s daughter, “I will not give up that ring; it belongs to the hand that was given away before the altar. But I will go with you over to the door. There you can call for him, and we will both be standing in the passage. When he comes, we will blow out the candle that stands there, and I will reach my hand in through the doorway, so he sees the ring.”

And that was how things went; the bridegroom stood near the door, and the bride called to him from the passage, saying, “See, here is the ring!” At the same time she blew out the candle and the other put out her hand with the ring on it in through the doorway. But the groom did not want to look at the ring; he grabbed the hand and pulled the girl into the room. Then he saw with astonishment that it was the poor unfortunate in the mouse-skin fur. All the wedding guests gathered around her, wanting to know what was going on. Then she took off her fur and stood there in her gold-wrought garment, and she was more beautiful to look upon than the other bride. Now everyone wanted to know how things stood, and so she had to tell them how long she had been hidden in the mound, and that her father had been their previous nobleman. Her little dog was also brought in from the girl’s miserable chamber, and many people from the neighbourhood recognised it. Then there was great joy and wonder. Everyone praised her father, who had fought so bravely for their country, and everyone agreed that the manor belonged to her. Her grief had now turned to joy; but she wished that everyone should be as happy as she was, and so she bestowed goods and gold upon the other bride, so that she might marry the man to whom she had secretly pledged her faith. Her parents conceded it. And now there was much joy at the wedding feast, when the young nobleman danced with his bride, to whom he was wedded at church.

— Johan Fredrik Eckersberg & P. Chr. Asbjørnsen. Juletrold : udvalgte Folke- og Børne-Eventyr. Christiania: Brøgger, 1851.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Utburd’s Song at its Mother’s Wedding

A wedding was once held in Swedish Lapland, and the bridal couple had come from the church and all the guests sat down at the table.

After the wedding table was cleared, the folk could begin to dance.

The groom took the first dance with his bride, and the fiddler was asked to play the bride’s favorite dance, a Lapp polska dance. When the melody was played through, a few of the guests who had been standing outside came in, pale with horror; they had heard a child’s voice under the drawbridge of the barn, singing along with the music inside the cabin; but the voice did not seem to be the voice of an ordinary child.

When the bride heard this, she grew pale; but as people went out to hear the song and could hear nothing, this was ignored, and the dance continued as before.

The bride danced all evening without ceasing; the fiddler had played all the tunes he knew, and then played from the beginning again.

But as he again played the bride’s favorite dance, the child’s voice came in again, and everyone could clearly hear the voice, too:

Had the scissors and needle not my body lamed,
I would have raised myself up for a quick dance with my mama.
Li la-li-la la la li la-li-la la la li-la-li la la la la la-li-la la la,
Li la-li-la la la li la-li-la la la li-la-li la la la la la-li-la la.

Everyone now understood that the singer was an utburd, and as the wedding guests gathered together by the barn’s drawbridge, the utburd repeated the refrain several times, and a number of the guests learned both the words and the melody. The utburd continued to sing until a wise man baptized it. Then the bride confessed her crime and was taken away; but the small bones they found beneath the barn bridge were taken to the cemetery and buried.


— Ole Tobias Olsen. Norske folkeeventyr og sagn: samlet i Nordland. Kristiania: Cappelen, 1912.

The melody sounds something like this:

Monday, 30 September 2019

The King’s Daughter of Denmark

Now there was once a king’s son who wanted to go off and propose to the king’s daughter in Denmark. But she was so proud and haughty about things that she wouldn’t have him, even though he was a king’s son. She merely made a fool of him, and cut the manes and tails off his horses. So he went into the king. “Is this right, this?” he said, “I come, wanting to propose to your daughter, and she goes fooling me about. But now I promise you,” he said, “that I will make her so poor that she’ll walk in clogs and beg.”

“Yes, do that if you can,” said the king, “but if you cannot do it, then I shall come after you with both fire and sword,” he said.

So the king’s son travelled home, slaughtered two pigs, made himself a tunic from the skin, and bought a whole heap of fine scarfs. Then he returned to Denmark, and there was no one who recognised him.

Then, ragged and pathetic, he came into the king, and asked whether they needed a cook. “Yes, you look as if you could do that,” said the king.

“If nothing else, then I can at least help carry out and in from the table,” he said. Oh yes, in that case he could stay, then.

So one evening he took out a scarf and showed the girls; oh, it was as fine as it could be! Then the king’s daughter came out. “That scarf is too fine for you, it is,” she said; “but it may suit me,“ she said.

No, he would not give it away, but it would be the same to him, he said, if he were allowed to lie outside the door to her room for one night, he said. — Oh yes, if he would promise to keep calm, then he would be allowed, for it was such a fine scarf that she simply had to have it. And so it was done.

On the second evening he took out a scarf that was even finer. The king’s daughter had to have this one, too. Well, if he were allowed to lie at the end of her bed for a night, she would have it. Yes, but then he would have to lie calmly. He promised to, and so it was done.

The third evening went the same way; then he took out a scarf that was of pure silk, and it was so fine as it hung there, gleaming; there had never been such a fine scarf there on the king’s farm. The king’s daughter had to have it. No, he did not want to be rid of it. “Oh, you are not worthy of having something so fine,” she said. “What would you want it for?” she said.

Oh he just had it, he did; he had inherited it, he said. “But it’s all the same, anyway,” he said, “if I may lie in your bed by your side tonight, then you shall have it,” he said. This was certainly unsettling, letting this ugly vagrant lie by her side; but then he had been calm before – well yes, if it was no worse than that, for she had to have the scarf. But he had to promise to lie completely still, and leave again early in the morning. – Well of course he would lie still. So it was done.

Early in the morning she woke him; he lay asleep, snoring. She woke him and wept and begged him to get up. - Oh no, he just lay there. As the day drew on, the king came up, wanting to see how things were with his daughter.

“Are you unwell today?” he said. Then he saw he who lay in bed with her. “Who is that, lying there?” he said, stepping away again. Then he saw who it was, and he grew furious. “If you’ve let that ugly pig-pelt lie with you, then you’ll have to leave,” he said.

So they had to leave, the both of them, there was nothing else for it. She wimpered and wailed so terribly. “Oh, I’m sure something can be done,” he said, “oh, I’m sure something can be done.” He just walked along, he did, walking and singing, and was so happy.

So she walked until she was barefoot. “Well, I don’t have the money to buy you shoes,” he said, “unless you go into a clogmaker and have a pair of clogs made. – And that is what they did; they went into a clogmaker, and he made her a pair of clogs. Then they had to wander, begging their way forth.

She wimpered and wailed.

At great length, they came to the king’s farm that he called home. “Well, now I don’t know what to do but ask if I may go back into service; I am known here,” he said, “so I ought to be able to get some work.”

“Oh yes, they’ll feed you, I’m sure,” she said, “but I am not accustomed to work, I’m not.”

“Oh well, you’ll certainly learn,” he said; he was being terribly difficult, you see.

So they went into service there. And there was one evening that he said to her: “They’ll be baking flatbread tomorrow, so make sure you can bring something away with you.”

Oh no, she couldn’t do that; she wasn't used to doing that, she said. “Oh yes, you must try,” he said, “we need something to live on.” So she did as he said; the next day she stuck some bread in her pocket. In the evening he came into the kitchens, dressed as a king, walking around so proud and mean. “Now I want to see if anyone has taken of my bread,” he said. She was so scared. But no, no one had heard of such a thing.

So when they should go to bed, she was so fearful. “Oh you who should fool me into this!” she said.

“Oh pooh! Don’t fret about it, you,” he said; “he does that every evening, he does, and says they’ve stolen from him, but nothing ever comes of it. Nothing ever comes of it.”

After some time passed, he said to her, “Tomorrow you’ll be baking again, and you must bring some bread with you,” he said.

“No, I dare not,” she said; “the king is so mean, I simply dare not do it any more,” she said.

“Oh, there’s nothing to talk about about,” he said, “for we must have something to live on.”

So on that day she took some, too. And that evening the king came out into the kitchens. “Well, I wonder if anyone has stolen any bread today, I do,” he said; “they are so terrible here,” he said.

“No, I don’t think so,” she replied.

Then he paced across the floor, so proud and mean, glaring, but nothing more came of it.

After another day, he said to her: “Tomorrow the king will have a wedding; we must hurry tomorrow morning, and dress ourselves as bride and bridegroom. So we can steal the wedding clothes and get away as quickly as we are done.”

“No, certainly not; I dare not,” she said.

“Oh yes you will,” he said, “it won’t be not so bad,” and then he forced her, until she agreed to go along.

As day again drew near, they were up in the loft. “Be careful to get dressed now; we don’t have much time to do this,” he said.

She pulled on the clothes as quickly as she could; he tarried a long time before he he got dressed. She wept and begged him to get himself ready, for “it will soon be the bright day,” she said. Oh no, he was making himself completely ready.

Just like that, the music began to play, and they called for the bride and bridegroom. “Oh, God help us now!” she said. “What shall we do now?”

“Oh, now there is nothing for us to do but go down and be bride and bridegroom,” he said. She was so ashamed that she wanted the sink into the ground.

Well, they went down. The kitchen master stood, bowing, and the king himself came and wished them good fortune in land and kingdom. And she knew not what to do. Then the king’s son stepped forth. “Do you remember now, when I proposed to you, and you cut the manes and tails off my horses?” he said.

“Oh, was that you, then?” she said.

“Do you remember what I said then, that I would make you so poor that you would walk in clogs and beg?”

“Oh yes, oh yes!” she said.

“Will you complain, or are you happy now, then?” he asked.

“Oh, now I am happy,” she replied.

Then was there joy and a banquet.

I was there, too. And the king asked: “Where are you from?” he asked.

I was so thinly dressed, I was. “Oh, I'm from home,” I said.

“Oh, home,” said the king. “Where is that?”

“Well, it’s at home, it is,” I replied.

Then he grew so furious that he chased me out to the midden. Then I trudged home again. I was badly shod, but I trudged on regardless.


— Rasmus Løland. Norsk eventyrbok : etter uppskrifter paa folkemaalet. Vol. 1. Kristiania: Samlaget, 1904.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Foreword and Jørgen Moe’s Introduction to the second edition of Norwegian Folktales (1852)

A second edition of Asbjørnsen’s and Moe’s Norwegian Folktales was published in 1852. It collected all 53 tales the pair had so far published, 5 new tales, and a lengthy introduction written by Jørgen Moe, for which he had received a state grant. At the end of the volume there are copious notes on each of the folktales, which compare them with tales from other countries and sketch out other Norwegian variants the collectors had recorded. The notes are still on my to-do list; a draft of the foreword to the volume, and Moe’s introduction may be viewed below.

The foreword makes a case for the scientific nature of Asbjørnsen & Moe’s endeavour, and an appeal that Norwegian folklore be studied to the same degree as older Nordic literature. The important document, however, is the introduction; this is the first time it has appeared in English, and as the Norwegian original has not been reprinted since its initial publication typeset in blackletter, it is the most readable version of any.

There is still much work to do on these documents. Extant English translations of foreign tales ought to replace my translations of translations, I need to look up references to ensure they still work, terms and concepts need checking for consistency, the English will need revising, and so on and so forth. I wanted to let you read these documents sooner rather than waiting, though, despite their current, temporary shortcomings.

Click on the image for the .pdf.

The Foreword

The Introduction

Tuesday, 10 September 2019