About: The folk tales of Iceland are often warning fables to caution children about the dangers and unpredictability of nature and the landscape. Icelandic fairy tales are enchanting and curious without a clear “moral of the story” at the end; their purpose then, is perhaps simply to entertain or to give meaning to a custom, ritual or fact of life. Regardless, they are humorous, charming and cleverly written as they reveal cultural habits, norms and Nordic superstitions.
“‘Oh, do stop for a minute,” said Helga.'” Illustration by H.J. Ford. Published in The Brown Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (1904), Longmans, Green and Company.
Icelandic folklore falls under the banner of Nordic folklore. With the popularity of The Grimm’s Brothers fairy tales, there was a wave of folklore revivals throughout Europe as countries sent out their own collectors to gather stories directly as a means to help promote a national identity and bolster patriotic loyalty. In Iceland, the vast body of work that exists today of Icelandic folk tales is largely due to the efforts of two men, Jón Árnason (1819-1888) and Magnús Grímsson (1825-1860); Scottish folk tale collector, Andrew Lang, was able to include a few stories from Iceland in his fairy books as well.