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Norwegian Folktales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) Paperback – August 12, 1982

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Norwegian (translation)

From the Inside Flap

Collected here in a contemporary translation. With these tales we meet witches, trolls and ogres, sly foxes and mysterious bears, beautiful princesses and country lads turned heroes. Includes illustrations.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Series: The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (August 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394710541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394710549
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
My 9-year old was enthralled with the stories in this book, begging for more every night until we finished it. I disagree with his Freudian interpretation, but Bruno Bettelheim is right that folktales touch something wired within us, fulfilling an innate need children have to comprehend the adult world.
Although not as well-known as the German Grimm's collection in the United States, this book is widely revered in Norway. Both are teutonic cultures, but these stories are different in character and feel from the Grimm Brother stories. While they contain elements common to all european fables, this book is filled with trolls, and the reformation seems like a recent event. Norsk tales have a unique and compelling charm.
My favorite fable is in this collection--the one about the mill that explains why the sea is salty. Read it yourself--I don't want to spoil the ending.
From a purist point of view, drawings detract from stories such as these, but two of Norway's most most well-known illustrators are represented, and the artwork is compelling.
This paperback is a reprint of the original English-language translation from 40 years ago. I have that original text packed away somewhere lost, so it was a real treat to be able to buy a new copy to share with my son.
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Format: Paperback
I'm a middle-aged English professor, but I love this book now, as I did when I was a kid. If I had to whittle my personal library down from its present size (maybe 3000?) to a hundred books, I'm sure I'd still keep this one. I read these stories now to my children and remember how I loved the stories when I was their age. When I'm a senior, I'll remember how I shared this book with my kids, as well.
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Format: Paperback
...alongside the fjords, is its literary tradition, beginning with the Viking romances and sagas, at full flood in the works of Ibsen, but flowing like an underground river through its grotesque folk tales - eventyr - as collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and the Møes father and son. Asbjørnsen began collecting tales in 1834, in isolated rural areas of Norway, a country whose geography has guaranteed isolation through most of history. The publication of the Grimm Brothers' collection of folk tales sparked further enthusiasm amongst Norwegians, but the 'eventyr' are different in many ways from the traditions rescued by the Grimms, and radically different from the literary fairy tales that soon infiltrated Europe and consigned folk tales in general to the realm of children's literature.

Readers familiar with the Icelandic sagas will find many similarities in these hard-minded and hard-handed stories of peasant kings, eerie maidens, and of course trolls, with their peculiar shrewd stupidity. The pleasure of hearing/reading most of the eventyr is in the sardonic humor, the joy of seeing the come-uppance of the rich and powerful. It's interesting to note that stories collected from men are chiefly rough and humorous, and naturalistic, while those collected from women, as translator Pat Shaw reports, "kept to deep, mystic, or eerie themes."

The original illustrations by Erik Werenskiold and Theodor Kittelsen are reproduced in this collection. Black-and-white pen sketches and etchings, they match the eventyr in wry humor and spooky trollishness. I remember them well from my own childhood, when my grandmothers held me on their laps and read to me in Swedish.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I lived near Oslo from Aug. '85-Jan. '86. One fall Saturday, at the checkout counter in a bookstore across from Slottsparken, I said to the clerk in Norwegian "You speak English like an American!" Her sharp tongue shot back "You speak Norwegeian like an American!" She responded to my questions why she (American) was there with "I was married to one of them" and couldn't "go back" because she didn't fit anymore. She recommended a book and also told me she'd translated some Norwegian Folk Tales into English. My host told me later it was Pat Shaw.
My daughters (then 8 and 12) read the book from cover to cover many times. Without the availability of an English grade school library filled with teen and preteen romances my daughters read pretty much whatever was placed on the coffee table. They enjoyed Shaw's translation very much, although I also occaisonally translated directly (with effort) from Asbjørnsen and Moe. This translation gives us in English a look at 'the soul of the Norwegian people', as a good friend describes the folk tales.
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There are not enough good words to describe this marvellous book! The Norwegian tales are unsurpassed in everything from folk humour to literary value. The plots are very diverse, always surprising, with very skillfully depicted characters, the stories flow easily, as from the pen of a master writer. The drawings accompanying this particular collection are simply enchanting, so simple, yet so telling. Do buy this book and you'll be glad to have discovered a jewel of the world folklore.
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The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library is usually excellent, and this book is no exception. It is well worth the money and is a good read. Interestingly, one of the illustrators also provided illustrations for Snorre Sturlasons Heimskringla or The Lives of the Norse Kings. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1990.
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Norwegian Folktales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
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