Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Boy Who Changed Himself Into a Lion, a Falcon, and an Ant

Strangely enough, dragons do not often feature in Norwegian folktales; they are not, therefore, creatures that many Norwegians consider representative of their folklore. Trolls, nisses, hulders, yes—but not dragons. The dragon in the attached tale is like most others: nothing more than an obstacle for the hero to overcome. It is sad, but dragons are for dying at the hands (or in this case, the paws) of a youth who has something to prove.

The hero in this tale remains unnamed. He is simply a boy who, by virtue of his equity, is granted the ability to change himself into the eponymous animals; and who, by means of his extraordinary abilities, saves three princesses, the youngest of whom he marries (of course).

(The same tale, translated by George Webbe Dasent, and published as “Boots and the Beasts”, is available in Zalka Csenge Virág’s fascinating book, Tales of Superhuman Powers: 55 Traditional Stories from Around the World.)