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Peter Christen Asbjornsen

(1812 - 1885)

Peter Christen Asbjørnsen was a Norwegian writer and scholar who, along with Jørgen Moe, is celebrated for collecting and popularising Norwegian folktales and legends. Their collaborative work played a crucial role in the Norwegian Romantic Nationalism movement and the development of a distinct Norwegian cultural identity during the 19th century.

Born in Christiania (now Oslo), Asbjørnsen initially pursued a career in natural science and forestry, which led him to travel extensively throughout Norway. During his journeys, he became fascinated by the rich oral storytelling traditions he encountered. Together with his friend and fellow folklorist Jørgen Moe, Asbjørnsen began the painstaking process of transcribing and systematising these tales from various regions.

Their joint publication "Norwegian Folktales" (1841–1844), presented a collection of stories drawn from the Norwegian peasantry's oral traditions, introducing memorable characters such as trolls, princesses, and heroes in their native landscape. These stories were notable for preserving the dialects and idiosyncrasies of the original storytellers, demonstrating a deep respect for Norway's diverse regional cultures.

Asbjørnsen's dedication to folklore extended beyond mere collection. He was also involved in ethnographic work, aiming to preserve traditional knowledge and practices at a time of significant societal change. His contributions are recognised as vital to the field of folklore studies and as a cornerstone of Norwegian literature and national heritage.

Short Stories member since March 2024