The Adventures of Ashlad Series

The Adventures of Ashlad Series is based on the collection of fairytales gathered by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, Norway's answers to the Brothers Grimm. The two met in 1826 studying together at the Norderhov school where they formed a friendship that continued throughout their entire lives. In 1837, they decided to endeavor in gathering fairytales from all over Norway for publication.

Peter Christen Absjornsen was born in 1812 in Christiania, which is now Oslo, the capital of Norway. He descended from a family originating in Otta in Gudbrandsdalen. Around 1832, Absjornsen began to collect and write down all the fairytales, stories and legends that he encountered. He later began to wander on foot the entire length and span of Norway adding to his stories. After enrolling at the University of Oslo in 1833 to study zoology, he worked directly with two of the most famous marine biologists of the time, Michael Sars and his son Georg Ossaian Sars. In 1834, after discovering that Moe had independently begun a search for the relics of national folklore, the two friends eagerly compared results and agreed to work together on compiling their collections. Asbjørnsen published a fairy tale collection in 1845 called "Huldreeventyr og folkesagn", but this collection never became as well known as the collection they published together. In 1856, Asbjørnsen was appointed forest-master responsible for the preservation of timber in Norway. He retired from this position in 1879 with a pension and died in Christiania in 1885.

Jørgen Engebretsen Moe, usually just referred to as Jørgen Moe, was born in 1813 on a farm called Mo at Hole in Ringerike. Ringerike is now a municipality in Buskerud county in Norway, near Oslo. He also studied at the University of Oslo, but left to make a living as a tutor in Christiania while studying theology. He was appointed as professor of theology at the Norwegian Military Academy in 1845 and nine years later took holy orders to become the chaplain at Olberg Church in Sigdal. From 1841 to 1852 Moe travelled almost every summer through the southern parts of Norway, collecting traditions, fairytales and folklore in the mountains. He moved to Drammen in 1863 and then again to Kristiansand in 1875 where he became the Bishop of Agder. Jørgen Moe was appointed Commander of the Order of St. Olav. in 1881 and died one year later on March 27, 1882.

Once Absjornsen and Moe decided to work together to create a collection of stories, it took four years before the first small pamphlet of Norwegian fairytales was published in 1841. In these days, traveling over long distances was arduous and very time consuming, especially during winter. Because the fairytales were kept alive solely through oral storytelling, the two had to visit small farms and villages all over the south of Norway writing down the stories one by one as they listened to people recount the tales in the traditional fashion.

The written language in Norway at time was very close to Danish, quite different from most Norwegian dialects and therefore poorly suited for retelling the Norwegian fairytales they collected. Wanting to keep the fairytales unique and authentic and being inspired by the Brothers Grim, they used a simple linguistic style in place of the dialects while maintaining the original form of the stories. They also had to use many words in the fairytales taken directly from Norwegian dialect and by doing so; they helped creating a new distinct Norwegian written language.

From 1841 to 1844 several pamphlets with Norwegian fairytales came out and in 1845 a large collection of was published. In 1870, the largest and most well known collection, including those that the Ashlad series is based upon, was published. The stories were well received all over Europe as a valuable contribution to literature and mythology. Parts of the collections have been translated into many languages. Sir George Webbe Dasent made the first and most well known translation into English called "Popular Tales from the Norse" and was first published in 1859.

Asbjørnsen and Moe are still very popular and well known in Norway today. To Norwegians their names are synonymous with traditional folk tales in the same manner the Brothers Grim are with rest of Europe when it comes to German fairytales. In addition to collecting and securing an original and important part of Norwegian culture, Asbjørnsen and Moe also made a major contribution to the development of the Norwegian written language. Today a large collection of Asbjørnsen and Moe memorabilia can be found at Ringerikes Museum in Buskerud, Norway.

Norwegian Fairytales

Fairytales or folktales, as they are also called, are an important part of Norwegian culture. They exhibit an undertone of realism and folk humor that make them unique and Norwegians view their fairy tales as very important authentic part of their culture.

Norwegian fairytales are often several hundred years old and have been passed down from parents to children over many generations. Talented storytellers were highly esteemed in Norway and each storyteller had his or her own unique style and way of telling the stories, thus making the stories undergo constant changes throughout the generations.

It was not until the 18th century that Norwegian fairytales were first written down and collected in a serious manner. The most famous collections were first published by Asbjørnsen and Moe in small pamphlets from 1841 to 1844 and later translated into multiple languages. It is in Asbjørnsen and Moe's fairytale collections that we find the tales of Ashlad that our stories and applications are based on.

The main reason serious scientific collection of fairytales and other folklore began in the 18th century was that "Det Akademiske Collegium", an educational institution in Norway at the time, started giving out grants for the collection of folklore. Grants were based on written applications outlining the collector's plans and areas of the country that they wished to travel. The folklore collected was placed in the Norwegian National Archive established in 1914 at the University of Christiania, now the University of Oslo.

There are several distinct characteristics found in Norwegian fairytales that make them different from other types of folklore; however, they also share commonalities between other fairytales from the region. A Norwegian historian once complained that the fairytales always belittle the king; they depict him as a fat and selfish farmer who didn't have any respect among the people. This is often presented using folk humor and satire.

There is usually a similar standard introduction to the fairytales. In English, "Once upon a time" is a very common way to start a fairytale.

Only elements that are important for the storyline are included in the fairytales. There tends to be no detailed descriptions of the environment or the people, neither any side stories nor any extra dialogue that is not necessary for the storyline.

There is usually only one hero in each tale and the whole story is focused around this character. The hero is a good person, smart, and clever, but often from a poor family and looked down upon by other people until he finally shines in the end of the story. The hero is also often depicted in a way that people can relate to and identify themselves with.

There are usually only two people in any one scene of a fairytale, such as Ashlad and the mother, Ashlad and the old man, Ashlad and the king, etc. If there are more people in one scene they usually just appear in the background and not directly involved.

There is usually a similar standard introduction to each fairytale. In English "Once Upon a Time " is a very common way to start a fairytale. In Norwegian fairytales, other standard openings translate to "There was a time", "Long, long ago", "There was a man", "One time", "In those days", and "There was also a time".

In a scene with two people, their differences are usually given importance: one is good one is evil, one is rich one is poor, etc.

There are often two characters with similar characteristics in a fairytale, an example being Ashlad's brothers, Per and Paul.

'Magical numbers' are used quite frequently in fairytales. The number 3 is used over and over again, but also numbers such as 7, 9 and 12 appear often.

The last of a series of events is always the most important. There are often two failed attempts before the final one is a success. Fairytales usually have a standard ending when the story is completed; "they lived happily ever after" is a very common one.

Even today, almost all Norwegians have some relation to their fairytales and folklore, either from having the stories read to them as a kid, learning about them in school or watching Ivo Caprino's famous classic fairytale movies on television. The fairytale collections by Asbjørnsen and Moe are still being published in Norway today and they can be found them on bookshelves all over the country.