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Asbjornsen, Peter Christen and Moe Jorgen Engebretsen.

Asbjornsen, Peter Christen and Moe Jorgen Engebretsen Moe, Jorgen Engebretsen (respectively b. Jan. 15, 1812, Christiania [now Oslo], Nor.--d. Jan. 5, 1885, Kristiania; b. April 22, 1813, Hole, Nor.--d. March 27, 1882, Kristiansand)

Collectors of Norwegian folklore. Their Norske folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folk Tales) is a landmark in Norwegian literature. Closely united in their lives and work, they are rarely named separately. They met as youths in 1827 and became "blood brothers."

Asbjornsen, the son of a glazier, became a private tutor in eastern Norway at the age of 20. There he began to collect folktales. Moe, the son of a rich and highly educated farmer, graduated with a degree in theology from King Frederick's University, Christiania, in 1839. He, too, became a tutor and spent holidays collecting folklore in southern Norway. Meanwhile, Asbjornsen became a naturalist, and, while making investigations along the fjords, he added to his collection of tales. The two men decided to pool their materials and publish them jointly.

At the time, the Norwegian literary style was too like that of Denmark to be suitable for national folklore, while the various dialects used in oral storytelling were too local. Asbjornsen and Moe solved the problem of style by adopting the Grimm brothers' principle of using simple language in place of the various dialects, yet maintaining the traditional form of the folktales. Some of the first tales appeared as early as 1837 in Nor; others were published as Norske folkeeventyr in 1841. Enlarged and illustrated collections appeared in 1842, 1843, and 1844. The whole was published with critical notes in 1852. Accepted in Europe as a major contribution to comparative mythology, Norske folkeeventyr was widely translated. In Norway it provided a stylistic model that substantially influenced the development of Bokmal, the literary language of modern Norway.

Asbjornsen later published a collection of fairy tales, Norske huldreeventyr og folkesagn (1845-48; Norwegian Fairy Tales and Folk Legends), and a translation of Darwin's Origin of Species (1860). Moe's Digte (1850; "Poems") placed him among the finest Norwegian romantic poets. His I bronden og i tarnet (1851; "In the Well and the Pond") is a Norwegian children's classic. In 1853 after experiencing a religious crisis, he was ordained and in 1875 became bishop of Kristiansand.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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