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17th of May, Day of Norway


At Libros de las Malas Compañías we want to revindicate the oral tradition of the people. We are not usually aware of the importance oral tradition has in our lives, but what if we told you that it was key to Norway's identity as a country? To make the case for its independence from the Swedish Crown, the spirit of the people was sought in a collection of traditional tales, as they not only serve as entertainment, but are a reflection of the people's own history. We have collected more than 100 tales in the anthology of Norwegian Tales (Norske folkeeventyr), which at the time served to help Norwegian to be considered as a language rather than as a dialect. It also contains more than 120 engravings by the most famous Scandinavian painters of the time, including Theodor Kittelsen, the author of the cover illustration. Magic and nature are present in all these stories, in which giant trolls, witty princesses and cunning thieves take over. The authors Asbjørnsen and Moe were inspired by the famous German fairy tale collectors, the Brothers Grimm, who openly acknowledged and praised their work, stating that they were ‘the best fairy tales in existence and surpass all others’.

 

Moreover, we should not forget that folktales are not exclusively children's tales; in the past, many of them contained erotic allusions and jokes, which only adults could understand, as they were intended to entertain everyone. These versions have not been preserved so well because the compilers often belonged to the Church and turned them into didactic or moralising stories, suitable for children. However, we have rescued some of these tales that survived in private archives and we have published Cuentos prohibidos noruegos, comprised by 50 stories. This collection is relevant because it reveals the authentic folk voice without filters. It is a valuable work for folktales fans and certainly an entertaining read for anyone.

 

On another note, Ash Lad is a selection of Norwegian folk tales, in which Ash Lad (Askeladden) is the undisputed protagonist. He is so called because he takes care of the fire, symbol of the hausehold. He does not compete with his brothers, does not bear grudges and deals with problems without violence and by thinking well before acting. He is able to recognise when he is afraid or when he is confused, showing enormous humanity, and it is this humanity that rewards him. It is an illustrated book for all ages, that teaches other ways of being a man, caring for the environment and valuing what many others overlook. He has come to be seen as the epitome of Norwegian qualities, being the youngest, the smallest and the weakest of three brothers —referring to the position he has historically held with Denmark and Sweden— but intelligent, bold and patient.

 

Today, we want to celebrate what these stories mean for Norwegian identity, and we want to acknowledge the work of Asbjørnsen & Moe, who devoted themselves to collecting oral sources and writing them in an accessible and innovative way, maintaining regional elements and expressions and thus preserving the memory of people from ancient times. For this reason, these three books have been key to the development of Norwegian literature and language.







 

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It's truly inspiring to see how Asbjørnsen & Moe's dedication to preserving Norwegian oral traditions has not only enriched the country's literary landscape but also played a vital role in shaping Norwegian identity. Their commitment to capturing regional elements and expressions in an innovative manner has ensured that the stories of ancient times remain alive and accessible to generations to come, contributing significantly to the cultural heritage of Norway. Read here: hill climb racing

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