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The Little Book of the Hidden People: Twenty Stories of Elves from Icelandic Folklore
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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
This a thread for The Little Book of Hidden People. It is a collection. There might be spoilers for various tales in this thread.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Bummer! I requested this as an interlibrary loan and I just received a notice saying they are unable to get this for me!


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
I requested it via ILL. Hopefully, it will come in!


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
I'm about halfway through, and it is so fascinating! I'm really enjoying it. It's also unexpectedly creepy to me. Not in a traditional sense of creepy, but the idea of hidden people. The first story gave me goosebumps because it felt so true.

In the introduction, she discounts that news story about how a town in Iceland moved a road because they didn't want it to go through a fairy hill. Do y'all remember that story? I actually led a class discussion about it a few years ago. Here's the story: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-...

She says that Icelanders as a general rule don't believe in elves, of course. That the story was propagated because it's a neat story, but it's a vast generalization. Many didn't want the hill to be torn down because it contained archaeological artifacts and plays a significant role in the town's history. Elves play a part in that cultural history, but the townsfolk don't actually believe in elves. She was interviewed by a news program (BBC? I can't remember anymore) but they decided not to run her bit because it was antithetical to the story they wanted to hear.

I thought that was really interesting.

Someone in this group shared a video several years ago called Hunting Trolls in Iceland. I bookmarked it because I loved it so much: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SVA8...

It's only 12 minutes long.

It's been a while since I watched it and I don't have time to rewatch it right this sec, but if I remember correctly, the journalist asks an Icelandic bookstore owner if her believes in trolls. And he says something along the lines of 'you can believe in something and not believe in something at the same time.' That's a really important idea to me and my love of fairy tales. That of course they're not real, but also, of course they're real. Does that make sense?

But the author of this collection is obviously upset about how Icelanders have been stereotyped as superstitious and backward based on the assumption that they truly believe in elves (aka, the hidden people).

I hope people pick this up! It's a really interesting collection of tales. Once I have time, I'll share my thoughts on some of the specific tales.


message 5: by Portia (last edited Sep 14, 2018 09:29PM) (new)

Portia | 36 comments Harrumph. I guess that makes Irish folks (leprechauns) and Cornish folks (piskies) and me (everything, especially The Good Neighbors who live in the woods behind my house) backward, too. Ah, well.

I’ve ordered my copy, but it won’t arrive for a bit. Looking forward to reading and joining in :-)


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
Portia wrote: "Harrumph. I guess that makes Irish folks (leprechauns) and Cornish folks (piskies) and me (everything, especially The Good Neighbors who live in the woods behind my house) backward, too. Ah, well.
..."


:)


message 7: by Asaria (last edited Sep 15, 2018 09:37AM) (new)

Asaria | 685 comments Portia wrote: "Harrumph. I guess that makes Irish folks (leprechauns) and Cornish folks (piskies) and me (everything, especially The Good Neighbors who live in the woods behind my house) backward, too. Ah, well.
..."

Real life story: According to the family tales, my mother's older brothers loved to scare the hell out of their younger siblings, just to keep these little rascals out of the trouble. To do so, they told stories about dangerous drowners, vodniks and gnomes.

Also, you still will find people, who believe in wraiths for example.


message 8: by Portia (new)

Portia | 36 comments Asaria wrote: "Portia wrote: "Harrumph. I guess that makes Irish folks (leprechauns) and Cornish folks (piskies) and me (everything, especially The Good Neighbors who live in the woods behind my house) backward, ..."

Spouse and I were visiting my parents before we were married. The 'rents joked that there was a ghost "living" on the second floor because the toilet up there would randomly flush. (I know, I know.) I'd put my suitcase in the tiny passage next to THE bathroom. At one point, the lid of the suitcase slammed shut. We four, plus my cat, were all in the same room, one floor down. My Mom said to my soon-to-be-husband, "He doesn't like you. Maybe we should cancel this wedding." The flushing we could explain. The suitcase ... :)


message 9: by Asaria (last edited Sep 15, 2018 01:39PM) (new)

Asaria | 685 comments Portia wrote: "Spouse and I were visiting my parents before we were married. The 'rents joked that there was a ghost "living" on the second floor because the toilet up there would randomly flush. (I know, I know.) I'd put my suitcase in the tiny passage next to THE bathroom. At one point, the lid of the suitcase slammed shut. We four, plus my cat, were all in the same room, one floor down. My Mom said to my soon-to-be-husband, "He doesn't like you. Maybe we should cancel this wedding." The flushing we could explain. The suitcase ... :) "

Maybe that's additional reason to get married after all. The nasty ghost always could throw a tantrum and in anger self-exorcise himself :)

Mods, is it all right to share urban legend here? If so

The story itself was told to my grandma by the biggest gossiper in the town. You know how it goes in the small communities.

Long before the WWII and Black Volgas, which terrorised all Eastern Block, there were rumours telling the story of the Black Carriage. It's supposed driver was no one else but Satan himself. He stops near you and asks about an hour. There is no way out, you're going to die at the same time tomorrow.

The Black Volga, oh that's one of the most famous urban legends in Eastern Europe. No one knows who is the driver. Satanists, hellish nuns, devil, mafia etc. But everybody was horrified by this. However, there is grain of truth, because I read such cars were in service of infamous Secret Service (NKVD, SB, Stasi or Securitate, name depends on country). Whoever got arrested, rarely returned.


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
Portia wrote: "Asaria wrote: "Portia wrote: "Harrumph. I guess that makes Irish folks (leprechauns) and Cornish folks (piskies) and me (everything, especially The Good Neighbors who live in the woods behind my ho..."

Was anything missing from the suitcase? :)

Asaria wrote: "Mods, is it all right to share urban legend here? If so
"


Always!

I love that story, esp. since there's a historical connection.

My sisters used to tell me a story about the screamer, a half bobcat, half human circus performer that lived in the woods by the train tracks. It's scream was human, and it hunted girls that did something bad. My sister claimed to have seen him multiple times. I since read that the Cherokee Indians who once lived in the area had a similar monster (half bobcat, half human) that also screamed like a human, though it was, obviously, called something else. I think this is a case of appropriating a myth.

To bring it back to these folktales, they actually read a lot like urban legends. There's a definite feeling that these things happened to somebody you know's friend.

Random, but I have two distinct memories of seeing fairies as a child. They happened years and continents apart (one in Germany, where I spent my early childhood, and the other at my main childhood home in TN). Nothing happened with them, they were just hanging out. In my earliest memory, three colored fairies were flying, and in the TN memory, it was perched on my window. Sort of looked like if a grasshopper looked like a person with wings, and a bit bigger. I hope they come visit me again.


message 11: by Asaria (last edited Sep 16, 2018 09:46AM) (new)

Asaria | 685 comments The Black Volga's urban legend returned again during my high school times. New times bring new cars, of course. Now the mysterious drivers are owning black Mercs or BMWs. In my region, they were human traffickers, who kidnap people for organ farming.

Margaret wrote: "My sisters used to tell me a story about the screamer, a half bobcat, half human circus performer that lived in the woods by the train tracks. It's scream was human, and it hunted girls that did something bad. My sister claimed to have seen him multiple times. I since read that the Cherokee Indians who once lived in the area had a similar monster (half bobcat, half human) that also screamed like a human, though it was, obviously, called something else. I think this is a case of appropriating a myth."

Native American's folklore is fascinating :)

Margaret wrote: "Random, but I have two distinct memories of seeing fairies as a child. They happened years and continents apart (one in Germany, where I spent my early childhood, and the other at my main childhood home in TN). Nothing happened with them, they were just hanging out. In my earliest memory, three colored fairies were flying, and in the TN memory, it was perched on my window. Sort of looked like if a grasshopper looked like a person with wings, and a bit bigger. I hope they come visit me again. "

Cool memory :). Maybe when you were child, you might had very vivid imagination. That's what my rational part is whispering to me. But world without imagination would be a boring place.


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
Asaria wrote: "But world without imagination would be a boring place. "

I definitely agree. :)


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
Finished! I really enjoyed this. I thought the tales gave some insight into the daily lives and culture of Icelanders in the past--how lonely life could be, how serious any kind of illness. And especially how people could disappear in the fog.

As a new mother, I was especially struck by the idea that Icelanders often had to leave their very young children home alone, and how those children would sometimes wander away, never to be see again. How depressingly hard life must've been for new parents.

Similarly, a common theme is women giving birth when no one else is around, without any kind of help. That also must've been fairly common.

The hidden folk in these stories often seem like a way to comfort the listeners, even as the stories aren't particularly comforting at all, if that makes sense.

I love the idea of a group of people living in the same spaces, but we're unable to see them. It reminds me a little of The City & the City by China Miéville.


message 14: by Portia (new)

Portia | 36 comments My copy arrived, so I will read it soonest ;)


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I just got a copy of this over the weekend and read half in one sitting. I'm really enjoying it so far!

Not just the stories - though those are cool too - but I'm really liking the intro and all the end notes that put the tales in their possible cultural contexts.


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
I liked that about it too. I wish more collections did that, though there are quite a few with annotations.


Annette | 266 comments I also just finished The Little Book.... I enjoyed it -- particularly the stories that were told in slightly different ways. I really do not have much background knowledge with respect to fairy tales, lore, mythology, etc. but I am trying to fix that. Annotations are always appreciated.


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
Okay, you are all making me so eager to read this!
My library doesn't have it, so I originally requested it as a library loan. However because I had indicated in my request that I did not want to pay the fee if there was not a copy in Canada and there's not, it couldn't be delivered. Then Chris gracious offered to loan me her kindle, but that's also only possible in the U.S., so after reading all these comments I requested it again, this time indicating I'll pay the fee!
This book sounds really good!


Jalilah | 4546 comments Mod
I am so glad I finally got to read this book! It was a fast and enjoyable read. I enjoyed the authors commentary as much as the actual tales, if not more!
It's funny because I never thought of Iceland, Scandinavia in general, being religious, but that's because the way modern day Scandinavia seems so progressive.


Margaret | 3769 comments Mod
I still think about this collection regularly. I told my husband one of the stories a few days ago. :)


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