TPO20 Lecture3 Literature
Professor：All right, so now we’ve talked about folk legends and seen that their ... one of their key features is there’s usually some real history behind them. They are often about real people, so you can identify with the characters, and that’s what engages us in them. The particular stories might not be true and some of the characters or events might be made up. But there’s still a sense that the story could have been true since it is about a real person. That’s distinct contrast from the other main branch of popular storytelling, which is folk tales. Folk tales are imaginative stories that ... um ... like folk legends, they have been passed down orally, from storyteller to storyteller for ... since ancient times. But with folk tales you don’t ever really get the sense that the story might have been true. They are purely imaginative and so quite revealing, I think anyway, about the culture and the connection between folk tales and culture, which we’ll talk about.
But first let’s go over the various types of folk tale and focus specifically on Norwegian folk tales since they illustrate the variety pretty well. There are in general three main types of Norwegian folk tales. 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 at the same time, they retain their animal characteristics too. They tend to involve animals like bears, wolves and foxes. The point of these stories, their, their internal objectives, so the speak, is usually to explain some feature of the animal, how it arose. So there’s one about a fox who fools a bear into going ice fishing with his tail. When the bear puts his tail into the water through a hole in the ice, to try and catch a fish, the ice freezes around it, and he ends up pulling his tail off. So that’s why bears to this day have such short tails. The second category of Norwegian folk tale is the supernatural. Eh ... stories about giants and dragons and trolls, and humans with supernatural powers or gifts, like invisibility cloaks. Or where people are turned into animals and back again into a person, those are called transformation stories.
There’s a well-known Norwegian supernatural folk tale, a transformation story called East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which we’ll read. It involves a prince who is a white bear by night and a 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 a transformation story, this one also has a lot of the common things that tend to show up in folk tales. You will find the standard opening, ‘once upon a time ... ’ . And it has stock characters like a prince, and a poor but beautiful peasant girl, she is the heroine I mentioned. And ... um ... it has a very conventional form. So no more than two characters are involved in any one scene. And it has a happy ending. And it’s ... the story is presented as though ... well, even though a lot of the actions that occurred are pretty fantastic, so you’d never think of it as realistic. The characters still act like ... they resemble real people. They are not real or even based on historical figures. But you might have a supernatural story involving a king, and he’d act like you’d expect a Norwegian king to act. OK. The third main kind of folk tale is the comical story. We’ll say more later about these, 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, folk tales were just passed down orally. Each generation of storytellers had their own style of telling a story. But ... um ... in Norway, before the 19th century, folk tales were just for kids. They weren’t seen as worthy of analysis or academic attention. But this changed when the romantic movement spread throughout Europe in the mid-19th century. Romantics looked at folk tales as sort of a reflection of the soul of the people. So there was something distinctly Norwegian in folk tales from Norway. And there was renewed pride in the literature and art forms of individual countries. As a result, the first collection of Norwegian folk tales is published in 1852. And there have been many new editions published since then. For the people of Norway, these stories are now an important part of what it means to be Norwegian.
1 What is the lecture mainly about?
A. The role played by folktales in contemporary Norwegian society
B. A description of the major types of Norwegian folktales
C. A comparison of Norwegian folktales and Norwegian folk legends
D. An illustration of the differences between oral literature and written literature
2 What does the professor find appealing about folk legends?
A. They are very imaginative.
B. They are somewhat realistic.
C. They stress what is important in a culture.
D. They show similarities between otherwise diverse societies.
3 How is the story of the bear and the fox characteristic of Norwegian animal stories?
A. It explains the origin of a physical characteristic of an animal.
B. It uses animal behavior to explain human characteristics.
C. It shows how animals were domesticated by people.
D. It contains episodes of animals changing into people.
4 Why does the professor mention a folktale called east of the Sun and West of the Moon? Click on 2 answers.
A. To point out conventions found in most folktales
B. To point out differences between animal stories and comical stories
C. To give an example of a transformation story
D. To give an example of a story published in the first collection of Norwegian folktales
5 What does the professor say about the characters in Norwegian Folktales?
A. They usually behave in playful and amusing ways.
B. They usually behave the way that real Norwegian people behave.
C. Most are giants, trolls, or dragons.
D. Most are based on actual historical figures.
6 What does the professor imply happened as a result of the Romantic movement’s spreading to Norway?
A. Children’s literature became less popular.
B. Attempts were made to modernize the plots of traditional folktales.
C. Folktales began to be regarded as an important aspect of Norwegian culture.
D. Folktales in Norway became more similar to folktales from other parts of Europe.