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The following annotated bibliography on werewolves and lycanthropes was written by Cheryl Haning for Kip Wheeler's English 199 Class (Writings About Medieval Monsters), on July 19, 2001.


Annotated Bibliography on Trolls

Boucher, Alan. Trans. Elves, Trolls and Elemental Beings: Icelandic Folktales II. Reykjavik: Iceland Review, 1981.

"Trolls and monsters have a homely, everyday manner" (10). This book provides brief but useful tales relating to troll lore in Iceland, and gives an insight into what trolls might mean within a certain cultural context (46-62). Includes stories like "The Night Troll," in which we learn that (1) trolls are blamed for disappearances, (2) they are turned to stone by sun, and (3) that Christmas Eve is a particularly bad time for troll events. This book also gives tales about trollwives that might provide interesting fodder for a comparison between the ugly troll women and human crones—at least the book seems to afford such a comparison, almost an etiology that sources ugly old women, witch-like and fearsome, as a source for trollwives. Possible misogyny?

Christiansen, Reidar, ed. Folktales of Norway. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.

This book contains folktales, but also provides a bounty of stuff about troll tradition and background. It lays out the distinction between trolls and huldre-folk, and the separation in their lore through characteristics, chronology, places where their lore might stem from, and their etiological significance. The book also positions trolls within Norse mythology. I think it's a great source book insofar as it provides information on the possible origin of trolls, stories about them, reports of troll occurrences, "historical" legends, and legends about their mountains.

Kvideland, Reimund and Henning K. Sehmsdorf, eds. Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

This book surveys Scandinavian folk beliefs through legend and documents; it notes uniformity in these beliefs, as well as regional differences. It's a good introduction into rural Scandinavia as well, providing a lot of historical, geographical, and cultural information throughout a couple of centuries. It discusses the function of the legend tradition and also the possible etiological motivations behind the folklore. As for trolls specifically, it provides a bunch of good incidents and traditional happenings involving trolls. Page 299 begins the stories on TROLLS & GIANTS—gives their etiological functions and characteristics of trolls after brief stories of incidents. The folklore is followed by a brief analysis and information---this I found particularly helpful.

Lindow, John. Swedish Legends and Folktales. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

This book mixes folktales with historical narrative, analysis and interpretation. It gives background information, implications, cultural information, explanation, and information both geographical and religious. It also describes trolls, gives a bibliography for troll-lore, and describes the decline of troll lore in the culture. It gives stories about trolls as explanations for occurrences, variations within folklore, descriptions and cultural setting for the lore. It relates the troll figure to that of the devil (156) and lets us know that "trolls are the least known of the nature-beings, and the ones who are most likely to do harm to humans they encounter" (55). There's a lot of information in this source and it covers a lot of ground, but that also means it's sometimes hard to pinpoint stuff you want.

Simpson, Jacqueline. Icelandic Folktales and Legends. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972.

This book gives a whole lot of folktales, which might or might not be helpful to you, but it also provides a good introduction that discusses some motifs and origins within troll lore. For example, "Icelandic trolls are in most ways the direct descendants of the stupid, dangerous giants of Scandinavian myth, but differ from them in being generally solitary creatures, and in being so often associated with particular rocks and other landmarks" (7). The book also gives etiological information about trolls, particularly regarding the aforementioned rocks and land formations. Motifs like the fear which inspires troll-lore and the geographical motivation behind the creation of troll stories like the mountainous, cold, wild, and solitary nature of the Icelandic world. Simpson also gives us some happier themes and roles for trolls: humorous and romantic, these show trolls as a potential source for humor in tales. With this one, I would mostly check out the introduction.



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kwheeler@cn.edu. Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler and Cheryl Haning, 1999-2003.