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'And this time she whisked off the wig (The Widow's Son)', illustration by Kay Nielsen, 1914 [Public domain image]

Popular Tales

From the Norse

by George Webbe Dasent


Contents    Start Reading    Page Index    Text [Zipped]

This is George Dasent's classic collection of Scandinavian folklore. This is not about Norse mythology per se; so if you are looking for tales of Odin, Loki, and Freya etc., you will have to look elsewhere. Rather, this is an anthology of folk tales, similar to the Grimm Brothers, or Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands. All of the usual suspects are in place, including giants, trolls, witches, evil step-siblings, magical boons and tasks, and anthropomorphic animals.

The introduction is exceptionally well written, and places various magical and other themes from the tales into the context of ancient Norse Pagan beliefs. It is a victorian scholarly treatise however (with the requisite multipage foonotes and rhetorical flourishes), and will mostly be appreciated by academic readers. Once you get past the introduction however, the prose descends to the young adult level, and the delightful stories can be appreciated by readers of all ages. There is also an appendix which has a few 'Anansi' stories from the West Indies.

Title Page
Notice to the Second Edition
Notice to the First Edition
Memoir of George Dasent


Norse Mythology
Norse Popular Tales
Extracts From Press Notices

Popular Tales from the Norse

True and Untrue
Why the Sea Is Salt
The Old Dame and Her Hen
East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon
Boots Who Ate a Match with the Troll
Hacon Grizzlebeard
Boots Who Made the Princess Say, ''That's A Story.''
The Twelve Ducks
The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body
The Fox as Herdsman
The Mastermaid
The Cat on the Dovrefell
Princess on the Glass Hill
How One Went Out to Woo
The Cock and Hen
The Master-Smith
The Two Step-Sisters
Taming the Shrew
Gudbrand on the Hill-side
The Blue Belt
Why the Bear Is Stumpy-Tailed
Not a Pin to Choose Between Them
One's Own Children Are Always Prettiest
The Three Princesses of Whiteland
The Lassie and Her Godmother
The Three Aunts
The Cock, the Cuckoo, and the Blackcock
Rich Peter the Pedlar
Gertrude's Bird
Boots and the Troll
Goosey Grizzel
The Lad Who Went to the North Wind
The Master Theif
The Best Wish
The Three Billy-Goats Gruff
Well Done and Ill Paid
The Husband Who Was to Mind the House
Farmer Weathersky
Lord Peter
The Seven Foals
The Widow's Son
Bushy Bride
Boots and His Brothers
Big Peter and Little Peter
The Cock and Hen That Went to the Dovrefell
Katie Woodencloak
Doll i' the Grass
The Lad and the Deil
The Cock and Hen a-Nutting
The Big Bird Dan
Soria Moria Castle
Bruin and Reynard
Tom Totherhouse
Little Annie the Goose-Girl


Introduction to Appendix: Ananzi Stories
Why The Jack-Spaniard's Waist is Small
Ananzi and the Lion
Ananzi and Quanqua
The Ear of Corn and the Twelve Men
The King and the Ant's Tree
The Little Child and the Pumpkin Tree
The Brother and his Sisters
The Girl and the Fish
The Lion, the Goat, and the Baboon
Ananzi and Baboon
The Man and the Doukana Tree
Nancy Fairy
The Dancing Gang