Synopses & Reviews
Trolls lurk under bridges waiting to eat children, threaten hobbits in Middle-Earth, and invade the dungeons of Hogwarts. Often they are depicted as stupid, slow, and ugly creatures, but they also appear as comforting characters in some childrenand#8217;s stories or as plastic dolls with bright, fuzzy hair. Today, the name of this fantastic being from Scandinavia has found a wider reach: it is the word for the homeless in California and slang for the antagonizing and sometimes cruel people on the Internet. But how did trolls go from folktales to the World Wide Web?
To explain why trolls still hold our interest, John Lindow goes back to their first appearances in Scandinavian folklore, where they were beings in nature living beside a preindustrial society of small-scale farming and fishing. He explores reports of actual encounters with trollsand#151;meetings others found plausible in spite of their better judgmentand#151;and follows trollsand#8217; natural transition from folktales to other domains in popular culture. Trolls, Lindow argues, would not continue to appeal to our imaginations today if they had not made the jump to illustrations in Nordic books and Scandinavian literature and drama. From the Moomins to Brothers Grimm and Three Billy Goats Gruff to cartoons, fantasy novels, and social media, Lindow considers the panoply of trolls that surround us and their sometimes troubling connotations in the contemporary world.
Taking readers into Norwegian music and film and even Yahoo Finance chat rooms,and#160;Trollsand#160;is a fun and fascinating book about these strange creatures.
and#8220;With the erudition and wit we have come to expect of his scholarship, Professor Lindow takes the reader on a journey into the complex processes that inform literature and loreand#8212;and modern commercial culture. Experienced or novice and#8216;trollologist,and#8217; you are sure to find this an excellent and richly rewarding read.and#8221;
and#8220;Excellent overview of the history of trolls. . . . Trolls: An Unnatural History weighs in at only 144 pages but never feels too brief. Lindow takes a long view of his subject matter. . . . To follow a thread throughout 1,000 years of history, in several different countries, is not an easy task. In the hands of someone less knowledgeable and less skilled in presenting their arguments, a book can end up as a mess. Here, Lindow avoids all those traps, instead giving us a coherent, insightful, and informed exploration of a fascinating subject that deserves a wider audience.and#8221;and#160;
andldquo;clever little book. . . . Lindow writes with wit and warmth, but this is also a learned and sometimes unsettling study which brings to light some unexpected facets of the troll phenomenon more generally.andrdquo;
andldquo;You likely wonandrsquo;t find another source for such an in-depth look at trolls, internet comment sections notwithstanding.andrdquo;
Elves, Trolls, and Wights is the most complete study yet made of the various beings with whom the Vikings shared their world, from the smallest spirits of stones and plants to the great giants who strive against or aid the Norse gods. Elves, dwarves, giants, wights dwelling in rocks, streams, and oceans: these beings have been friends, foes, and even lovers of humans, and often worked more closely with farming and fishing folk on a daily basis than did the gods themselves. In this book, Kveldulf Gundarsson, long-famed scholar of Old Norse religion and Heathen leader, looks closely at the history and folklore of these beings and offers a practical guide for dealing with them. Elves, Trolls, and Wights also includes Kveldulf's new translation of the little-known Icelandic skaldic poem Berg-Dweller's Song, in which the giant Hallmundr tells of his own folk and world-faring.
This book is a natural history of trolls from their first appearances in folk talesand#151;some people reported actual encounters with trolls, and others found such encounters plausible even if they were not sureand#151;and follows a natural transition from folk belief to trolls in other domains of popular culture. Indeed, trolls would not be interesting had they not made this jump, first to illustrations in the Nordic book market, then on to Scandinavian literature and drama, and far beyond. Since then they have never gone away, and in their various guises they continue to appeal to the imagination across the globe. From the Moomins to Brothers Grimm to Three Billy Goats Gruff this book explores the panoply of trolls and their history and their continuing troubling of our imagination today.
About the Author
John Lindow is professor of Scandinavian at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs and Medieval Folklore: A Guide to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs.
Table of Contents
1. The Earliest Trolls
2. Medieval Trolls
3. Folklore Trolls
4. Fairy-tale Trolls and Trolls Illustrated
5. Trolls in Literature
6. Trolls, Children, Marketing, and Whimsy
Sources and Further Reading
Acknowledgements and Photo Acknowledgements