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Even if you have never been put to spin gold from straw, you may still feel some of the dejectedness of getting a very, very hard task. The hero or heroine in some tales are given just such tasks. Some of them seem outright impossible without miraculous aid of a sort.

Many authors have told about how they were inspired by childhood tales in their writing. Astrid Lindgren and Selma Lagerlöf are two such Swedish authors.

Swedish folk tales are tales that have been told and recorded in Sweden, and some are rooted in Swedish history or legend. Many tales are akin to tales from neighbouring countries, like Norway - and tales in both these Scandiavian countries are of a more or less common, European stock, as evidenced in the International Folktales Catalogue (Uther, 2004).

Collectors and Collections

Swedish folktales and legends were preserved by the efforts of Gunnar Olof Hylten-Cavallius, Gabriel Djurklou, George Stephens, Per Arvid Säve and other folklore collectors in the 1800s.

The first Swedish collection to appear was Svenska folk-sagor och äfventyr: efter muntlig öfverlämning samlade och utgifna av Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius och George Stephens (1844-1849). The title means, "Swedish folktales and fairy tales orally transmitted. Collected and published by . . . " followed by the names of the two editors. They had made use of several tale-tellers from several places in Sweden. Their collection has been reworked and re-issued many times since.

Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius in time left a large collection of folktales and legends that he collected mainly between 1837 and 1850, Svenska Folk-Sagor, Legender och Äfventyr (Swedish Folktales, Legends, and Fairy Tales).. He added to his collection until 1882. In it, there are recordings by men and women, ministers, nobles, farmers, servants, and others.

Baron Nils Gabriel Djurklou (1829-1904) collected many tales in the 1850s and 1860s also.

In the early half of the 1900s, the Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademien (a Royal Academy) published series of Swedish fairy tales and legends of uneven quality, and also fragments.

The language versus the content

1. The language of the recorded Swedish fairy tales is explained in the series by the Royal Gustav Adolf's Academy (Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademin):

The printed tales are told in a language that had been made as oldfashioned as possible . . . filled with oldfashioned words from the medieval language . . . How different the tone is in the Grimm Tales!

"De tryckta sagorna äro berättade på ett språk, som gjorts så ålderdomligt som möjligt . . . späckat med ålderdomliga ord ur medeltidsspråket . . . Hur annorlunda är icke då tonen i bröderna Grimms sagor!" [Kungliga, Vol 2, p 19, 202].

Michael Jonasson Wallander (1778 -) has been termed "the great master of the Swedish folktale." [Kungliga, Vol 2, p 11]. The Swedish folklore editor Sven Liljeblad writes about him:

Mickel's immense admiration of an affected, officialese style misled him at times to the most twisted floods of words. He often entangled himself in a pressed wordiness, and his assiduous use of reverse order of word became too rough at times.

"Mickels omåttliga beundran för en konstlad kanslistil förledde honom ibland till de mest skruvade tirader. Ofta trasslade han in sig i krystad mångordighet, och hans flitiga användning av den omvända ordföljden blev ibland alltfor knagglig." [Kungliga, Vol 2, p. 19]

Liljeblad describes Mickel's language as in part very oldfashioned, and yet says he was the best of those who supplied Swedish folktales. (Liljeblad, Uppsala den 18 april 1939 - Svi 11-22].

2. On the content side, though a large number of Swedish tales equal many other Scandinavian tales, which they are related to or sometimes local variants of. Today there are updated Swedish tales, as in Gidlund's four-volumed work, and English translations too.

Swedish Folktales in translation

Some Swedish tales are found in Yule-Tide Stories (1888), edited by Benjamin Thorpe. The Swedish tales flow rather smoothly and felicitously in his translation.

Many of the tales that Baron Nils Gabriel Djurklou (1829-1904) had collected and in part embellished, were translated into English quite early. Other Swedish folktales too were translated into English a hundred years ago.

Early Swedish regional tales are found in Swedish Fairy Tales by Herman Hofberg, translated by W H. Myers (1895). The tales in the Hofberg collection are short, but poetic.

Reimund Kvideland and Henning K. Sehmsdorf (1988) include many brief Swedish legends in the Scandinavian collection of over 400 annotated, rather brief tales.

Cultural Sides to Tale-Telling

Many sides to culture are transmitted and consolidated by narratives (stories), says the cultural psychologist Jerome Bruner. Stories is a mode of describing sides to the world we experience, and may persuade the infantile mind. Cosy tales help children and young ones to get on the track of personally relevant meanings of life - Between the lines they are given "recipes" of succeeding and not to be fooled too often. There are many hints for both these sides to living. Stories also transmit values and key outlooks, and they structure events in ways that are acceptable to children, and now and then delight them. [Coe 39-40]. [More]


Swedish folktales, fairy tales and legends of Sweden, Literature  

1. English Translations

Djurklou, Nils Gabriel. Fairy Tales from the Swedish, tr. Hans Lien Brækstad. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1901.

Hofberg, Herman, coll. Swedish Fairy Tales, tr. W. H. Myers Chicago: Belford-Clarke Co, 1890.

Nyblom, Helena, tr. Jolly Calle and Other Swedish Fairy Tales. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co, 1912? [Reissue: READ BOOKS, 2008]

Stroebe, Clara. The Swedish Fairy Book, tr. Frederick H. Martens. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1921.


Booss, Claire. Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales: Tales from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland. New York: Gramercy Books, 1984.

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

Thorpe, Benjamin. Yule-Tide Stories: A Collection of Scandinavian and North German Popular Tales and Traditions, from the Swedish, Danish, and German. 1910.

2. In Swedish

Djurklou, Gabriel. Ur Nerikes Folkspråk och Folklif: Antäckningar utgifne till Fornvänners Ledning. Örebro: N. M. Lindh, 1860.

Djurklou, Gabriel. Sagor och Æfventyr berättade på svenska landsmål. Stockholm: C. E. Fritze's Kungliga Hofbokhandel, 1883.

Bäckström, Per Olof. Svenska folkböcker: Sagor, legender och äfventyr, efter äldre upplagor och andra källor utgifne, jämte öfversigt af svensk folkläsning från äldre till närvarande tid ... Vol 1. Stockholm: A. Bohlin, 1845.

Djurklou, Gabriel. Ur Nerikes Folkspråk och Folklif: Antäckningar utgifne till Fornvänners Ledning. Örebro: N. M. Lindh, 1860.

⸻. Sagor och Æfventyr berättade på svenska landsmål. Stockholm: C. E. Fritze's Kungliga Hofbokhandel, 1883.

⸻. Folke-eventyr utgitt av Nordal Rolfsen. New ed. Oslo: Jacob Dybwads forlag, 1928 and Fabritius (1971).

Gidlunds. Svenska folksagor, Vols. 1-4. Stockholm: Gidlunds, 1981.

Hyltén-Cavallius, Gunnar Olof, och George Stephens, samlarar. Svenska Folk-Sagor och Äfventyr efter muntlig Öfverlemning. Första Delen. Stockholm: A. Bohlin, 1844 and 1849.

⸻. Svenska sagor. Vols. 1-4. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Prisma, 1964 (Vol 1) and 1965.

Liljeblad, Sven. Svenska folksagor II. Sagor från romantikens dagar efter upptecknarnas original. Andra upplagan. Stockholm: Bokförlags Aktiebolaget Thule, 1939.

Lundell, J. A. Nyare Bidrag til Kännedom om de svenska Landsmålen og svenskt Folklif. Tidskrift utgifven på uppdrag af Landsmålsföreningarna i Uppsala, Helsingfors och Lund genom J. A. Lundell. Tidssskrift. Femte bandet. Täxt. Stockholm: 1884-91. Stockholm: Kongl. boktryckeriet, P. A. Norstedt and Söner, 1891.

Sahlgren, Jöran, red. Svenska folkböcker I. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1946.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker II. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1947.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker III. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1948.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker IV. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1948.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker V. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1949.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker VI. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1951.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker VII. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1954.

⸻. Svenska folkböcker VIII. Stockholm: A.-B. Bokverk, 1956.

A Series by Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademien (GAA):

Kungl. Gustav Adolfs Akademien før svensk folkkultur was founded in 1932. Professor Jøran Sahlgren at Uppsala universitet initiated the work.

1. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 1. Mickel i Långhult sagor. Stockholm: Bokförlags Aktiebolaget Thule, 1937.

2. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 2. Sven Sederströms sagor. Stockholm: Bokförlags Aktiebolaget Thule, 1938.

3. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 3. Sagor från Småland. Stockholm: Bokförlags Aktiebolaget Thule, 1939.

4. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 4. Sagor ur G. O. Hyltén-Cavallius och George Stephens samlingar. Uppsala: A.B. Lundequistska Bokhandeln, 1942.

5. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 5. Sagor och sägner upptecknade av Gabriel Djurklou I. Jöran Sahlgren. Stockholm: Tryckeri Aktiebolaget Thule, 1943.

6. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 6. Sagor och sägner upptecknade av Gabriel Djurklou II. Jöran Sahlgren. Uppsala: A.B. Lundequistska Bokhandeln, 1953.

7. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 7. Sagor från Södermanland upptecknade av Gustaf Ericsson. Uppsala: Bengt af Klintberg, 2011.

8. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 8. Sagor från Närke. Maja Forsslund. Stockholm: Tryckeri Aktiebolaget Thule, 1943.

9. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 9. Sagor från Åsele Lappmark. Herman Geijer, Sven Liljeblad och Karl-Hampus Dalhstedt. Stockholm: Tryckeri Aktiebolaget Thule, 1945.

10. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 10. Gotlandska sagor upptecknade av P. A. Säve. Herbert Gustavson. Uppsala: Almquist & Wiksells Boktrykkeri, 1952.

11. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 11. Folktro och sägner från skilda landskap. Upptecknade och samlade av Eva Wigström. Aina Stenklo. Uppsala: A.B. Lundequistska Bokhandeln, 1952.

12. GAA. Svenska sagor och sägner: 12. Gotländska sägner. Band 1 och 2. Uppsala: Almquist & Wiksell, 1959 och 1961.

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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