TPO 20. Lecture 3. Literature

TPO 20. Lecture 3. Literature

Narrator : Listen to part of a lecture in a literature class

All right. So now we’ve talk about folk legends and seen up there and one of their key feature is there is usually some really history behind them. They are often about real people so you can identify with characters and that’s what engages us in them. The particularly stories might not be true and some of the characters or events might be made up, but there is still a sense of the story would have been true since it’s about real person. That’s distinct contrast to the other main branch of popular story telling with is folktales.

Folktales are imaginative stories that, em like folk legends, they’ve been passed on orally from story teller to story teller for⋯since ancient times. But with folktales you don’t ever really get the sense of the story might have been true. There are purely imaginative so quite revealing, I think anyway, about the culture and the connection between the folktales and the culture with we were talk about.

But first, let’s go over the various types of the folktale and focus specifically on Norwegian folktales since it illustrate the variety pretty well. There are, in general, 3 main types of Norwegian folktales.

One is animal stories where animals are the main characters. They can be wild animals or domestic. And a lot of times they can talk and behave like humans, but the same time they retain their animal characteristics too. They tend to involve animals like bears, wolves and foxes. The point of these stories there, they’re internal of objectives of speak. It’s usually to explain some feature of the animal how it arose. So there is one about a fox who fouls a bear into going ice fishing within this tale. When the bear puts his tail into the water through a hole in the ice to trying catch a fish, the ice freeze around it and he ends up pull his tail off. So that’s why bears this day have such short tails.

The second category of Norwegian folktales is the supernatural. Stories about giants and dragons and trolls and humans with supernatural powers or gifts. Like invisibility cooks or where people are turning to animals and back again into a person. Those are called transformation stories. There is a well known Norwegian supernatural folktale, a transformation story called “east of the sun and west of the moon”, which were read, involves a prince who is white bear by night and human by day. And he lives in the castle that’s east of the sun and west of the moon, which the heroine in the story has to try to find. Besides being a good example of transformation story, this one also has a lot of the common things that tend show up in folktales. You’ll find the standard opening “once upon the time” and has star characters like a prince and a poor but beautiful peasant girl, she is the heroine I mentioned. And it has a very conventional form, so no more than two characters are involved anyone scene and it has a happy ending. And it’s⋯the story’s present this though well even though a lot of the actions that occur are pretty fantastic so you never think of this realistic. The character still act like they resemble real people, they’re not real or even based on historical figures. But you might have a supernatural story involve a king and he’d act like you would expect an Norwegian King to act.

Ok, the third main kind of folktales is the comical story. We’ll say more later about this, but for now just be aware of the category and that they can contain supernatural aspects. But they are usually more playful and amusing overall than supernatural stories.

Now as I said traditionally folktales were just passed on orally. Each generation of story tellers had their own style of telling the story. But in Norway, before the 19th century, folktales were just for kids. They weren’t seen as worthy of analyses or academic attention. But this changes when the romantic movements spreads though out Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. The romantic’s look that folktales as sort of reflection of the soul of the people, so there was something distinctly Norwegian folktales from Norway. And there was a renewed literature and art forms of the individual countries. As a result, the first collection of Norwegian folktale has published in 1852, and there have been many new additions published since then. For the people of Norway, these stories are now an important part of what it means to the Norwegian.

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