• Published a book you want to tell us about? Uploaded a YouTube video you want to share?

    Normally you'll need 100 posts to self-promote, but with an upgraded membership you can do so with your first post.

    Find out more here: Become a Supporting Member

Folktales: Grimm, Asbjørnsen and Moe, Jacobs, Afanasyev, & more

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Happily for me, I began to read good tellings of folktales when I was a boy, and I have never stopped liking them. Here's a place for discussion of folktales and folklore, even if someone wants to say no more than that he or she likes such and such a book. Perhaps some visitors to the thread will want to share a favorite story either by transcribing or pasting it, or by providing a link.

Someday I may have to dispose of nearly all of my books. I have long been sure that I would keep this one:


Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folk Tales in the 1960 Viking Press edition, with the indispensable illustrations of Kittelsen and Werenskiold.

I have no doubt I'd keep my Grimm, too -- the one I have is a book I bought in 1976, a reprint of a 1944 edition -- or, possibly, some other edition. At this point I don't know of any reason to be dissatisfied with this edition, but I'm aware that there've been one or two new translations, and there might be a case for one of those. I wouldn't assume newer is better.

I've been attracted to the University of Chicago Folktales of the World series, whose general editor is Richard M. Dorson, although I don't go very deeply into the folklorist scholarship. I haven't attempted to collect all of them.

I don't so far find myself greatly interested in exploring the folktales of all countries -- say, France or India for example. For one thing, I haven't read everything I already have, which includes collections of stories from Norway and Iceland that I like very much, Sweden, the Grimms' Germany, Russia, England, Scotland, and Ireland, Greece, the U. S. (folklore of white cultures, also stories from the native people), Israel, and Japan. If I stuck with just what I have on hand, I would have enough to keep me busy reading for years. I don't generally read more than one or two stories at a time, and I reread favorites.

I gravitate to the Märchen or wonder tales,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soria_Moria_Castle

but can also enjoy the humorous anecdotes, such as the ones about elderly persons who don't want to let on that they can't hear well and so decide ahead of time what they will say to questions they anticipate; of course the questions they are actually asked turn out to make the responses ludicrous!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/"Good_Day,_Fellow!"_"Axe_Handle!"

Incidentally, prominent folklorist Jacqueline Simpson*

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Simpson

is a fan of M. R. James. Rosemary Pardoe's James fanzine Ghosts and Scholars published Simpson's story "Three Padlocks." I wish the text were available online so I could share it with you.

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?1181415

I'd have bought her proposed English translation of the Danish stories collected by Kristensen.

https://books.google.com/books?id=JbOgBgAAQBAJ&pg=PR13&lpg=PR13&dq=jacqueline+simpson+danish+folktales&source=bl&ots=wRx1QQgQpl&sig=jw86A4a-mBP0XgWXKJLmHfERJaY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBGoVChMIt73mhbDgxwIVQp6ACh0LmwmM#v=onepage&q=jacqueline simpson danish folktales&f=false

It was announced years ago as coming from Hisarlik Press, but the project fell through. In the meantime we have lots of worthy volumes in the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library (e.g. Kevin Crossley-Holland's very nicely presented Folk-Tales of the British Isles,** a similar Penguin Books series, the University of Chicago series mentioned above, etc.

*I warmly recommend her Scandinavian Folktales and Icelandic Folktales and Legends.



That book's a prize, folks...

**It includes the eerie story "Yallery Brown," which is uncommonly "M. R. Jamesian," if you ask me. Crossley-Holland uses a telling by Alan Garner. Here is Jacobs' version:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14241/14241-h/14241-h.htm#Yallery_Brown
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
This might be a complete list of the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library releases:

https://www.librarything.com/publisherseries/Pantheon+Fairy+Tale+and+Folklore+Library

This list of University of Chicago Folktales of the World isn't complete:

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/series/FW.html

The list omits Hungary, Germany, Japan, Israel, China, France, and perhaps one or two others; there was a Latin American one of some sort, I'm pretty sure. The series included a book Folktales Told Around the World that, I think, may have been a selection from the books of the series.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
The great folktales have inspired who knows how many works of music, dance, visual art, poetry, and fiction.

Here's a poem by my friend Lars Walker.

Song of a Grumpy Dwarf

Who needs wizards or witches? I told them all myself
Back at the start. The story front to back.
Well, not the part about the apple. That
Gave even me a shock.
But in the end
It worked out as I warned them.

Princesses! What matters it to dwarfs
How ladies live or die? No princess ever born
Would spend a sigh on any dwarf that lives. Oh,
She might laugh to see
Us trudging up the street
Or spare a moment’s pity.

But in our sagging cottage? To bring a princess in
Is to shift all. Her beauty makes our home
A donkey’s stall. The brush, the broom, the soap
And paint are not enough.
She calls it good,
But dreams of silk and marble.

You think a princess born would be content to bide
In this rude shed? With seven ugly half-men?
When in her head a thousand ballads cry
To fetch her to her own?
You cannot hold
An eaglet in an anthill.

Oh, you may dream in secret things unspoken;
Dwarfs are Ygg’s worms. Sight is not enough.
We yearn to swarm. We lust to hold and touch
The buttery weight of gold,
The silver star,
Or any other heart-sweet.

And now she’s gone. The tall one came and pinched her
Just as I reckoned. Now our house is vast,
And vastly vacant. Spiders drape in corners.
Dust drifts in cupboards.
Dishes welter.
And washing would remind us.

(c) 2015 Lars Walker

There's lots more Walker -- prose, though, not poetry -- to enjoy. You can find some of them at Amazon, and the latest issue of Pierre Comtois's 'zine Fungi features a Walker "spotlight" feature, with the corrected text of a story originally printed in Amazing.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006WNC4J4/?tag=brite-21

http://virtualbookworm.com/products/fungi-the-magazine-of-fantasy-and-weird-fiction-issue-22
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Today I received Folktales of Germany in the mail, a volume in the late University of Chicago Folktales of the World series. The series appears to have been:

1.Germany
2.
3.England
4.Ireland
5.
6.Hungary
7.Japan
8.Israel
9.
10.Greece

Volumes for China, India, and Egypt were also published, and those would suffice to fill the gaps in the list above. I own the seven listed.

Volumes for Switzerland, Chile, France, Scotland, Southern Africa, Turkey, and the Philippines may have been projected but, if so, perhaps were not published.

The volumes in the series were prepared by specialists in the tales of those places, but the books are not swamped by commentary of interest only to scholars; most of the text is tales.
 

galanx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2015
Messages
398
The joys of fairy-tales for little ears:

Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.
Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
The new edition will be of interest to people who'd like to read the earlier versions, but I dearly hope no one will be so foolish as to think that there's something "suspect" about the later, more child-friendly stories today. These versions of the stories have had a vigorous life of their own for a very long time now and have greatly enriched the imaginations of generations of children. Those versions should continue to be shared with children. Or indeed, parental retellings based on them. My practice used to be sometimes to review an old tale and then tell it to the kids after they'd gotten into their beds on a dark evening, and tell the story in a leisurely way. They didn't watch a lot of TV but my wife and I tried to nest them in the spoken and printed word.
 

GOLLUM

Moderator
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
9,035
Location
Australia
Don't despair too much. There's plenty of us interested in folktales. I have several collections. I think I'll collate what I have over the weekend and try to list them here. Those national volumes you mention, especially for Germany and Switzerland are of particular interest to me.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Gollum, so far as I have been able to track it down, the Folktales of the World series didn't end up releasing a Switzerland volume; but I havethe Germany one.

Today I'm starting to read Legends of Icelandic Magicians, published in 1975. The book was edited by Jacqueline Simpson, who became president of the Folklore Society, and most of the translations are hers. There's an introduction by my late pen-friend Benedikt Benedikz, who also translated "Loftur the Magician" for the small volume. The dustjacket flap promises that the Loftur legend is "the story of how Loftur raised the corpse of [a wicked bishop] to wrest his manual of magic from him" in a "story to match those of M. R. James." By the way, Ben translated Jóhann Sigurjónsson's play Onsket (The Wish) for dramatic performance in the 1960s. The play is a dramatization of Loftur. Ben's translation is -- so far! -- unpublished, but my understanding is that Jean Young's translation, included in a book called Fire and Ice, is acceptable -- while the Haugen translation available online isn't really.

Jacqueline Simpson and Terry Pratchett in conversation:

Sir Terry Pratchett in conversation with Jacqueline Simpson

I haven't listened to this, as I haven't read Pratchett. I have several of Dr. Simpson's books and enjoyed her folklore story "Three Padlocks" in Ghosts and Scholars years ago.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Sorry -- error above. The Jean Young and Eleanor Arkwright translation of The Wish was recommended by Ben, but Young/Arkwright's version doesn't appear in a book called Fire and Ice. Ben described the Fire and Ice version of Sihursonnson's play (Haugen) as "very misleading and undramatic." Young's translation appeared in a book titled Loftur published by the University of Reading in 1939. There don't seem to be copies in any American libraries, but the British Library, St. Pancras, has one.

But the Legends of Icelandic Magicians is in the collections of six American universities.

And a really good collection of Icelandic folk tales edited by Simpson should be easily come by.
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
13,697
Location
California
I love your friend's poem.

Impossible to count the number of times I read and reread my favorite tales in a book of the Dasent translations of Asbjørnsen and Moe's collection that I had as a child. The tales collected by the Grimm brothers never moved me in the same way. I've no idea why. I didn't discover Jacobs until my late teens, which may explain the lack of the same emotional engagement with the stories he collected.

I have Simpson's Encyclopedia of Fairies (which of course is a somewhat misleading title since it covers so much more) and Icelandic Folktales and Legends and found both to be useful resources and sources of inspiration in my own writing. Her British Dragons has been sitting on my bookshelf for sometime, as yet unread. Legends of Icelandic Magicians sounds intriguing, and I think my next stop will be Amazon to see if it's available there.

Edit -- Nope. Prohibitively expensive. Will have to try the public library and interlibrary loan.
 

GOLLUM

Moderator
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Messages
9,035
Location
Australia
Gollum, so far as I have been able to track it down, the Folktales of the World series didn't end up releasing a Switzerland volume; but I have the Germany one..
I have some fairytales from Switzerland and (unsurprisingly) Germany but it would have been nice to see what they produced for Switzerland. Here is link to what appears to be quite a nice online site featuring folkales from around the world:

Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Fables and Folklore – The Gold Scales

I have quite a few books on folktales etc from different parts of the world but my best all-round antholgoy is Best Loved Folktales Of The World selected by Joanna Cole. It covers all of Europe, Asia, The Pacific, Middle East, Africa and North/South America.

As I said I have several other books including a recent purchase of The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham containing many colour plates and pen drawings. Quite lovely.

You may also be interested to know that I have a specific book covering so-called Myths and Folklore of Australian Aborigines.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
This thread seems to be becoming the bibliographic thread on folktales.... What's out there....

While this thread

Folk tales

might be more a place to talk about our own personal experience of reading folktales. Does that sound good?

Alternatively, we could ask one of the moderators to merge the two threads, perhaps.

Your thoughts?
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Chicago Folk Tales of the World.JPG
View attachment 36067 This thread might also be a place to show our collections. I would enjoy seeing what you have if you'd like to send pictures. I started to build what became my personal library of folktales just over 40 years ago.

I'll send one photo per posting. Here are the University of Chicago Folktales of the World books that I have. I particularly like the Norway one, although the cover is inappropriate, since the stories belong to a later period than the Viking era (and ... horned helmets??).
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Finally, a miscellaneous batch. Love that Icelandic book. The green book was a POD issue. Note that the title as printed on the cover is incorrect. The title of the original source was Popular Tales from the Norse.
Misc Folktales.JPG
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library contained the following 20 books and a very few more. Information is transcribed from a list that I photocopied from somewhere.

African Folktales (Abrahams)

Afro-American Folktales (Abrahams)

American Indian Myths and Legends (Erdoes and Ortiz)

Arab Folktales (Bushnaq)

Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies (Roberts)

Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Eighty Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Andersen)

An Encyclopedia of Fairies (Briggs)

Favorite Folktales from Around the World (Yolen)

Folktales from India (Ramanujan)

French Folktales (Pourrat)

Gods and Heroes (Greek mythology, Schwab)

Irish Folktales (Glassie)

Norse Myths (Crossley-Holland)

Northern Tales (Eskimo, etc., Norman)

Norwegian Folk Tales (Asbjørnsen and Moe)

Russian Fairy Tales (Afanas’ev)

Victorian Fairy Tale Book (Hearn)

Yiddish Folktales (Weinreich)

My impression is that many, perhaps most, of these weren't original with the series.

Roberts' Japanese Tales and Crossley-Holland's very nice selection of Folktales of the British Isles were also in the series. I think Calvino's Italian Folktales was also issued as a volume in the series.



 
Last edited:

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,140
Today I received Folktales of Germany in the mail, a volume in the late University of Chicago Folktales of the World series. The series appears to have been:

1.Germany
2.
3.England
4.Ireland
5.
6.Hungary
7.Japan
8.Israel
9.
10.Greece

Volumes for China, India, and Egypt were also published, and those would suffice to fill the gaps in the list above. I own the seven listed.
I should have listed also Folktales of Norway, one of my big favorites. According to the Amazon review belong, it was No. 5 in the series.

Amazon.com: Ian M. Slater's review of Folktales of Norway (Folktales of the World)


As long as we are considering Norse tales, let me remind everyone that there's also a place here on Chrons for discussing the Icelandic sagas:

Iceland's Sagas: Volsungs, Grettir, Njal, Laxdaela, Gisli, Hrolf Kraki, Vinland, more
 
Last edited:
Top