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The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

2019
Authors:

Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
Foreword by Neil Gaiman

The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

NEIL GAIMAN ON THE GOOD KIND OF TROLLS: EXCERPT AT LITHUB


A new, definitive English translation of the celebrated story collection regarded as a landmark of Norwegian literature and culture


These stories, set in Norway’s majestic landscape of towering mountains and dense forests, are filled with humor, mischief, and sometimes surprisingly cruel twists of fate. All are rendered in the deceptively simple narrative style perfected by Asbjørnsen and Moe—now translated into an English that is as finely tuned to the modern ear as it is true to the original Norwegian.

 

"Like the Grimms before them, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe applied countless fine calibrations to make their stories, paradoxically, a perfect capture of folk traditions. Tiina Nunnally set out to make their tales sing in English translation, and presto! Trolls, griffins, Ash Lads, and all the wonders of the Norwegian imagination spring to life with renewed cultural energy and élan."
—Maria Tatar, editor of The Annotated Brothers Grimm

The extraordinary folktales collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe began appearing in Norway in 1841. Over the next two decades the publication of subsequent editions under the title Norske folkeeventyr made the names Asbjørnsen and Moe synonymous with Norwegian storytelling traditions. Tiina Nunnally’s vivid translation of their monumental collection is the first new English translation in more than 150 years—and the first ever to include all sixty original tales.

Magic and myth inhabit these pages in figures both familiar and strange. Giant trolls and talking animals are everywhere. The winds take human form. A one-eyed old woman might seem reminiscent of the Norse god Odin. We meet sly aunts, resourceful princesses, and devious robbers. The clever and fearless boy Ash Lad often takes center stage as he ingeniously breaks spells and defeats enemies to win half the kingdom. These stories, set in Norway’s majestic landscape of towering mountains and dense forests, are filled with humor, mischief, and sometimes surprisingly cruel twists of fate. All are rendered in the deceptively simple narrative style perfected by Asbjørnsen and Moe—now translated into an English that is as finely tuned to the modern ear as it is true to the original Norwegian.

Included here—for the very first time in English—are Asbjørnsen and Moe’s Forewords and Introductions to the early Norwegian editions of the tales. Asbjørnsen gives us an intriguing glimpse into the actual collection process and describes how the stories were initially received, both in Norway and abroad. Equally fascinating are Moe’s views on how central characters might be interpreted and his notes on the regions where each story was originally collected. Nunnally’s informative Translator’s Note places the tales in a biographical, historical, and literary context for the twenty-first century.

The Norwegian folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe are timeless stories that will entertain, startle, and enthrall readers of all ages.

The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

Peter Christen Asbjørnsen (1812–1885) and Jørgen Moe (1813–1882) were energetic writers and researchers best known for their monumental collection Norske folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folktales), which introduced the lively traditions of Norwegian storytelling to readers around the world.

Tiina Nunnally is an award-winning translator of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish literature. Her many translations include Sigrid Undset’s first novel, Marta Oulie; the Minnesota Trilogy by Vidar Sundstøl; and Ola Larsmo’s Swede Hollow, all published by the University of Minnesota Press. She translated fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, and her translation of Kristin Lavransdatter: The Cross by Sigrid Undset won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. In 2013 she was appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for her efforts on behalf of Norwegian literature in the United States.

Neil Gaiman is a New York Times best-selling author of award-winning titles including Norse Mythology, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens, The View from the Cheap Seats, and the groundbreaking Sandman graphic novels. He is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. Several of his titles have been adapted for television, including the critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated adaptation of American Gods and his miniseries of Good Omens, based on the novel he co-wrote with the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States.

The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

Like the Grimms before them, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe applied countless fine calibrations to make their stories, paradoxically, a perfect capture of folk traditions. Tiina Nunnally set out to make their tales sing in English translation, and presto! Trolls, griffins, Ash Lads, and all the wonders of the Norwegian imagination spring to life with renewed cultural energy and élan.

Maria Tatar, editor of The Annotated Brothers Grimm*

The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

Contents

Foreword

Neil Gaiman

Translator’s Note

Norwegian Folktales

About Ash Lad, Who Stole the Troll’s Silver Ducks, Coverlet, and Golden Harp

The Gjertrud Bird

The Griffin

The Quandary

Richman Peddler Per

Ash Lad, Who Competed with the Troll

About the Boy Who Went to the North Wind and Demanded the Flour Back

The Virgin Mary as Godmother

The Three Princesses in White Land

Some Women Are Like That

Everyone Thinks Their Own Children Are Best

A Tale of Courtship

The Three Aunts

The Widow’s Son

The Husband’s Daughter and the Wife’s Daughter

The Rooster and the Hen in the Nut Forest

The Bear and the Fox

Why the Bear Has a Stump of a Tail

The Fox Cheats the Bear Out of His Christmas Meal

Gudbrand Slope

Kari Stave-Skirt

The Fox as Shepherd

The Blacksmith They Didn’t Dare Let Into Hell

The Rooster and the Hen

The Rooster, the Cuckoo, and the Black Grouse

Lillekort

The Doll in the Grass

Paal Next-Door

Soria Moria Castle

Sir Per

Little Aase Goosegirl

The Boy and the Devil

The Seven Foals

Gidske

The Twelve Wild Ducks

The Master Thief

The Three Sisters Who Were Taken Into the Mountain

About the Giant Troll Who Never Carried His Heart With Him

Dappleband

Nothing is Needed by the One That All Women Love

Ash Lad, Who Got the Princess to Say He Was Lying

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Who Were Supposed to Go Up to the Mountain Pasture to Fatten Up

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

The Hen Who Had to Go to Dovre Mountain, or Else the Whole World Would Perish

The Man Who Had to Keep House

Tom Thumb

Haaken Speckled-Beard

Master Maiden

Well Done and Poorly Rewarded

True and Untrue

Per and Paal and Esben Ash Lad

The Mill That Keeps Grinding at the Bottom of the Sea

The Maiden on the Glass Mountain

Butterball

Big-Per and Little-Per

Ragged-Cap

The Bushy Bride

The Tabby-Cat on Dovre Mountain

Farmer Weather-Beard

The Blue Twine

The Honest Four-Skilling Coin

The Old Man of the House

Foreword to the Second Norwegian Edition

From the Introduction to the Second Norwegian Edition
Jørgen Moe

Foreword to the Third Norwegian Edition
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen

Foreword to the Fourth Norwegian Edition
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen

Notes on the Regional Collection Sites of the Tales