Þjóðsögur Magnúsar Grímssonar

Hlutur Magnúsar Grímssonar í upphafi þjóðsagnasöfnunar á 19. öld

  • Rósa Þorsteinsdóttir
Keywords: Folktale collections, Jón Árnason's folktales, Íslenskar þjóðsögur og æfintýri (1862–1864), the nineteenth century


In 1845 Jón Árnason (1819–1888) and Magnús Grímsson (1825–1860) agreed to collect Icelandic folktales and poetry; they published the first printed collection of Icelandic folktales in 1852. They had intended to continue publishing further collections, but their first publication was poorly received, and nothing further came of their work until the German scholar Konrad Maurer came to Iceland in 1858. He encouraged them and promised to find them a publisher in Germany. Magnús died in 1860 so it fell to Jón to complete the project. Some have considered it something of an injustice to Magnús that his name does not appear on the title page of the collection of Icelandic folktales that was published in 1862–1864. This article describes Magnús’s life and work. It then investigates precisely what Magnús’s contribution to the collection of folktales was as well as his role in the publication of Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og æfintýri itself, which has always been associated with Jón Árnason. The article concludes that only about 150 of the over 1,200 items in the folktale collection of 1862–1864 can be traced directly to Magnús’s work. Moreover, Magnús was not very active in the further collection of material inspired by Jón Árnason’s famous letter calling for further collection of tales ("Hugvekja") nor in the preparation of the volumes for publication. Magnús was, however, the first to collect folktales in Iceland in a systematic way in the nineteenth century. Although he did not live long enough or have the time and strength to work in any major way on the first large edition of folktales to be published in Icelandic, he must be considered a trailblazer in this work.