"Bring the Folk Stories Home" MPs demand Skip to content

“Bring the Folk Stories Home” MPs demand

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

Jón Árnason, collector of Folk Stories
Photo: Photo: Hans Peter Hansen. Jón Árnason, collector of Folk Stories.

The Icelandic Folk Stories, or “þjóðsögur”, are a big part of Icelandic culture. They tend to concern the interactions between people and supernatural creatures, such as trolls, elves, ghosts and magical beings. Now, members of Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, are demanding that the historic manuscript which contains them be returned from Germany to Iceland, RÚV reports.

Lost manuscript found

Inspired by the brothers Grimm, librarian Jón Árnason collected the stories in the 19th century to be published in two volumes in 1862 and 1864. The original manuscript was sent to Germany for printing, and remains there to this day. It is stored in the Bavarian State Library in Munich after having been discovered among the possessions of the father of Konrad Maurer, who assisted Jón with the publication.

Important for Icelandic identity

“It’s not appropriate that our Icelandic Folk Stories be stored anywhere but in Iceland,” Jakob Frímann Magnússon, MP for the People’s Party, said. He and fourteen other MPs have put forth the motion in Alþingi to have the manuscript returned.

The MPs want the Minister of Culture and Business Affairs to ask for the manuscript back, as the Folk Stories collection was important for the development of Icelandic national identity. “These are remarkable stories and the originals of course belong in Iceland,” Jakob Frímann added.

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