Peter Christen Asbjørnsen Biography
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen born on 15 January 1812 – 6 January 1885 was a Norwegian writer and scholar. He and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe were collectors of Norwegian folklore. They were so closely united in their lives’ work that their folk tale collections are commonly mentioned only as “Asbjørnsen and Moe”.
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen was born in Christiania (now Oslo), Norway. He was descended from a family originating at Otta in the traditional district of Gudbrandsdal, which is believed to have come to an end with his death. He became a student at the University of Oslo in 1833, but as early as 1832, in his twentieth year, he had begun to collect and write down fairy tales and legends. He later walked on foot the length and breadth of Norway, adding to his stories.
Jørgen Moe, who was born in Ringerike, met Asbjørnsen first when he was fourteen years old, while they were both attending high school at Norderhov Rectory. The building is today the site of Ringerikes Museum, the local museum for the Ringerike region, and contains memorabilia from both Asbjørnsen and Moe. They developed a lifelong friendship. In 1834 Asbjørnsen discovered that Moe had started independently on a search for the relics of national folklore; the friends eagerly compared their results, and determined for the future to work in concert.
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen Career
Asbjørnsen became by profession a zoologist, and with the aid of the University of Oslo made a series of investigative voyages along the coasts of Norway, particularly in the Hardangerfjord. He worked with two of the most famous marine biologists of their time: Michael Sars and his son Georg Ossian Sars.
Moe, meanwhile, having left the University of Oslo in 1839, had devoted himself to the study of theology, and was making a living as a tutor in Christiania. In his holidays he wandered through the mountains, in the most remote districts, collecting stories. In these years he laid the foundation for the great literary its output.
In 1842-1843 the first installment of their work appeared, under the title of Norske Folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folk Tales), which was received at once all over Europe as a most valuable contribution to comparative mythology as well as literature. A second volume was published in 1844 and a new collection in 1871. Many of the Folkeeventyr were translated into English by George Dasent in 1859.
In 1845 Asbjørnsen also published, without help from Moe, a collection of Norwegian fairy tales (Huldre-Eventyr og Folkesagn). In 1856 Asbjørnsen called attention to the deforestation of Norway, and he induced the government to act on this issue. He was appointed forest-master, and was sent through Norway to examine in various countries of the north of Europe the methods observed for the preservation of timber.
In 1876, he retired from these duties with a pension. In 1879 he sold his large collection of zoological specimens to the Natural History Museum (Ireland) for £300. This collection includes specimens of Brisinga endecacnemos (nl), possibly collected during his biological survey of the Hardangerfjord in the 1850s. He was made a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in Trondheim. He died in Christiania in 1885.
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen Writing Style
It was usually said of their work that the vigour came from Asbjørnsen and the charm from Moe, but the fact seems to be that from the long habit of writing in unison they had come to adopt almost precisely identical modes of literary expression.
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen And Moe
Closely united in their lives and work, the two men are rarely named separately. They met as youths in 1826 and became “blood brothers.” Asbjørnsen, the son of a glazier, became a private tutor in eastern Norway at age 20. There he began to collect folktales. Moe, the son of a rich and highly educated farmer, graduated with a degree in theology from the Royal Frederick University (now the University of Oslo), Christiania (now Oslo), in 1839.
He too became a tutor and spent holidays collecting folklore in southern Norway. Meanwhile, Asbjørnsen 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 influenced by Danish norms to be suitable for national folklore, while the various dialects used by Norway’s oral storytellers were too local. Asbjørnsen and Moe solved the problem of style by adopting the Brothers Grimm’s principle of using simple language in place of the various dialects, yet maintaining the national uniqueness of the folktales to an even higher degree than their German precursors had done.
Some of the first tales appeared as early as 1837 in Nor and others were published as Norske folkeeventyr in 1841. Enlarged and illustrated collections appeared in 1842, 1843, and 1844. In 1852 all the tales were published with critical notes and a scholarly introduction by Moe.
Accepted in Europe as a major contribution to comparative mythology, Norske folkeeventyr was widely translated. The first English translation in 1859 was followed by many more into the 21st century. In Norway it provided a stylistic model that substantially influenced the development of Bokmål, one of the two linguistic standards of modern Norwegian.
In 1856 Asbjørnsen, a botanist and zoologist by profession, became a forest master and studied methods of timber preservation. He published a collection of fairy tales, Norske huldreeventyr og folkesagn (1845–48; Norwegian Fairy Tales and Folk Legends), and a translation of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1860).
Moe’s Digte (1850; “Poems”) placed him among the Norwegian Romantic poets, and I brønden og i tjærnet (1851; “In the Well and the Pond”), his collection of children’s stories, is a Norwegian classic. In 1853 after experiencing a religious crisis, he was ordained, and in 1875 he became bishop of Kristiansand.
Peter Christen Asbjørnsen Legacy
In the 20th century, Norwegian filmmaker Ivo Caprino made a series of puppet films based on the fairy tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe. Asbjørnsen is featured in the introduction to each film. Caprino also built a theme park in Hunderfossen Familiepark near Lillehammer where these fairy tales play a central role. Since 2008 Asbjørnsen has appeared on the reverse of the Norwegian 50 krone banknote.