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Notes to Norwegian Folktales ❧ 3
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The Squire's Bride - AT 1440

To solve his problems, a farmer in debt promised his pretty daughter to his master, a rich, old landowner, against her will. On the wedding day the master sent a servant to get 'that which was promised him'. The daughter sent a horse with the uninformed servant. The landowner thought the daughter had arrived to be wed at last. Too preoccupied with his own wedding plans, the old man silenced all attempts at objections and suspected no gambits. Thus the little horse was taken into the master's chamber and dressed up as a bride at the man's command.

[The tale]

The Twelve Ducks - AT 451

A queen was promised a daughter on condition that she lost her many sons. When the girl was born, the brothers were transformed to wild ducks and flew away. The sister found them much later and learnt how to disenchant them. She had to pluck bog cotton and sew shirts for them without talking, laughing or weeping. A prince saw the speechless girl and married her right before her task was done.

After the wedding her children were stolen by her mother-in-law and she was accused of killing them. As she was about to be burnt as a witch, the wild ducks flew down to save her. They got their shirts, were disenchanted, and much was cleared up.

[The tale]

The Mastermaid - AT 313

The girl as helper in the hero's flight) The hero came into an ogre's power, and was assigned impossible tasks: to clean out a stable, build a bridge, go for wild horses, and further. He got help from a mastermaid, a woman who had been trained in the giant's arts. The maid and the hero eloped and escaped from the ogre by acts of transformations. They appeared to be a man with a cow, duck and water, tussock with straw and the like. They also dropped magic objects which were transmuted and stopped the ogre.

Then something sad happened: the boy lost the girl because he broke a taboo, forgets her or something else. She, in turn, settled down in a cabin, where three rich visitors came to court her, but she paralyses them into humiliating positions. While this went on, the hero was on his way to marry another woman, but his wagon was damaged, and he had to borrow things from the girl in the cabin in order to reach the church. At the wedding table she showed herself to him through her tokens of fidelity. He recognized her joyfully, and she took her place as bride, a place she had won.

[The tale]

Hacon Grizzlebeard - AT 900

A haughty princess turned down all her suitors, and humiliated a prince among them in particular. He came back disguised as another (a beggar, merchant) and married her. Her father banished them, and she had to endure a series of humiliations: She had to work at the hardest tasks, and she rued her former pride. Only then did the prince reveal himself and celebrated the wedding with her. He taught her a very harsh lesson.

[The tale]

Rich Peter the Pedlar - AT 461

A rich man (Rich Peter) was foretold that his daughter would marry a poor lad. He made attempts to kill the youth and prevent the marriage, but in vain. Then the boy was promised the daughter in return for performing a dangerous and difficult task: Go to the world's end and bring back three feathers from a dragon. On his way he was asked various questions and also asked to find the answers. He was helped to do this by a princess in captivity at the dragon's place, and returned with gold and silver. The envious rich man tried to imitate the youth's exploits, but he was compelled to relieve the ferryman in the other world.

[The tale]

Lord Peter - AT 545B

It is about having a cat as helper: The youngest of three brothers inherited a cat, and it proved to be his helper. It caught and sent various fine animals as gifts to a king's court, dressed up the boy and introduced him to the king, convincing him that Peter was a wealthy nobleman. The king was enticed into visiting the boy's palace. The cat went ahead and made herdsmen say that they were working for the cat's master. The cat went to a giant's castle where the cat tricked the troll into looking at the sun, and thereby killed him. After taking possession of the giant's property, the cat then asked Peter to cut off her head, which he reluctantly did. In that moment the cat became a beautiful princess, and she married Peter.

This type of tales (AT 545B) is also known as PUSS-IN-BOOTS from the French.

[The tale]

Goosey Grizzel - AT 1383

The woman who does not know herself is a deep theme of this and similar tales:

The woman in question was smeared over with fat and soot. Thus she forgot who she was, and did not know herself any longer. Instead she thought she was an animal or a devil. She banded with some thieves and stole from her husband and others, and went on to frighten the village or town - much through ignorance.

The type is the same as that of the Grimm tale "Clever Elsie".

[The tale]

When the Hare Was Married, or, Good News and Bad News about the Hare's Marriage (The Hare and the Heiress) - AT 96*, discontinued ATU type

The hare tells the fox how happy he is to be a widower. The hare's marriage was not all good, for his wife could be a devil, but there was good news: she had a good dowry and a house of her own. But there was bad news too, for the house burned down. But the news wasn't all bad, because his wife bumed up with it.

"Life has its ups and downs," said the elevator operator. Compare two similar tales.

[The tale]

The Huldre-folk's Hope for Salvation - Legend type: ML 5050

The usual pattern in this legend type is that the person first denies the possibility of the huldre's salvation, but then feels sorry for them. Alternatively, the person is admonished by a minister, or witnesses a miracle which changes his or her mind.

Close affinities are evident between Norwegian and Gaelic beliefs about the redemption of fairies, says Reidar Christensen.

Further, eighteen Norwegian variants of this tale are on record, eight from western Norway. The present variant was collected in Heddal, Telemark, before 1880, by H. Tvedten (Reidar Th. Christiansen, Folktales of Norway 1968, No. 37, "The Prospects of the Huldre-Folk for Salvation.")

[The tale]

Whittington's Cat (The Honest Penny) - AT 1651

A poor lad goes abroad on a merchant's ship accompanied by a cat he has inherited, or has got in exchange for his only property: a righteous coin (a 'fourpenny'). They arrive in mouse-infested lands where cats are unknown, lands so overrun with mice (rats) that the inhabitants have to defend themselves from the animals' attacks with cudgels and hammers while eating. He sells the cat for a high price three times for a fortune. When the merchant claims all the money for himself, they get into trouble: a sudden storm convinces him to be honest, so he promises the boy the whole profit. They return and the hero marries the merchant's daughter.

This sort of tale is documented in the late 13th century in the Persia and in Europe (Albert von Stade, Annales), and was popular as a play and ballad. The story of Sir Richard (Dick) Whittington (from the 1600s), who became mayor of London eventually, is of this type too.

[The tale]


Norwegian folktales, Norway fairy tales, Asbjørnsen and Moe folktale and fairy tales notes, literature

Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen. Fairy Tales from the Far North.. Tr. Hans Lien Brækstad. New York: A. L. Burt, 1897. ⍽▢⍽ Forty tales.

Asbjørnsen, Peter, og Jørgen Moe. Samlede eventyr, bd 1-3. Oslo: Kunstnerutgaven, Gyldendal, 1965.

Ashliman, D. A Guide to Folktales in the English Language. New York: Greenwood, 1987.

Bø, Olav, et al, eds. Norske eventyr (Norwegian Fairy Tales). Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget, 1982.

Dasent, George Webbe, tr. Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe. East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1921. ⍽▢⍽Fifty-nine tales of a total of about one hundred and thirty in all by Asbjørnsen and Moe. Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld contains fifty-two more.

Dasent, George Webbe, tr. Tales from the Fjeld: A Second Series of Popular Tales, from the Norse of P. Chr. Asbjørnsen. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874. ⍽▢⍽ Fifty-two more Norwegian tales.

Gade, Helen and John, trs. Norwegian Fairy Tales: From the Collection of Asbjörnsen and Moe. New York: London: Humphrey Milford, 1924. ⍽▢⍽ Thirty-three tales.

Hodne, Ørnulf: The Types of the Norwegian Folktale. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1984.

Kvideland, Reimund, and Henning K. Sehmsdorf, eds. 1988. Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stroebe, Clara, ed. The Norwegian Fairy Book. Tr. Frederick Herman Martens. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1922. ⍽▢⍽ Thirty-seven tales.

Uther, Hans-Jörg. The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Vols 1-3. FF Communications No. 284-86, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 2004.

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