A first section of seven essays, entitled “Songs and Tales in Oral Tradition,” presents research in the area of folklore studies, including balladry, saints’ lives, incantations, healing, legendry, and personal experience narrative. Articles take up such issues as classification, thematics, cultural and historical change, and the effects of technology on daily life. A closely related second section, “From Oral Tradition to Literature” includes three essays which examine the adaptation of oral tradition to literary forms, focusing on the works of P. Chr. Asbjørnsen, Esias Tegnér, Elias Lönnrot, F. R. Kreutzwald, and the illustrations of Arthur Rackham—all figures important in the rise of folklore as a key interest of Romantic nationalism.
A further set of nine essays grouped under the title “Tales in Literary Form” examine aspects of the writings of some of the greatest storytellers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including H. C. Andersen, Herman Bang, Henrik Ibsen, Jóhann Magnús Bjarnason, Charles Dickens, Thomas Mann, Isak Dinesen, Martin Andersen Nexø, Billy August, Hans Scherfig, Peter Høeg, Klaus Rifbjerg, Leif Panduro, and Kjartan Fløgstad. Articles address topics including autobiography, source criticism, symbolism, personal and national identities, and the representation of political ideals.
Together the essays of this volume demonstrate the unflagging salience of narrative—of storytelling—in the personal lives and social experiences of Scandinavians and their neighbors, past and present.
In Psychology, Folklore, Creativity and the Human Dilemma, the author explores the meaning of folklore and its usefulness in education and psychotherapy. The author’s interest has expanded into other fields that challenge and question the limits of our everyday horizons, namely, into operas, plays, and humor, as well as into new approaches to the meaning of human existence explored by modern thinkers. These various fields often interact, explain, and enrich each other. The book aims for deepening the awareness of our ultimate human concerns, the meaning of authenticity, and the urgent need for radical, long-term commitments. The present volume focuses almost entirely on the role of folklore in expanding and enriching a person’s horizons, on the challenges by modern writers in terms of the need to radically alter the paradigm of Western society that has brought the blessings of technology, led to a fragmentation of our psyche, and threatens the very essence of our subjectivity. Throughout the book there is both the hidden and the overt implication that simply liking, appreciating or agreeing with insightful ideas and suggestions presented by anyone are absolutely worthless, or may even be counterproductive, if the readers do not translate into changes and actions the ideas that are most meaningful to them, and if they do not do so in their family, social, political and spiritual life.