marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Trolls: An Unnatural History

Trolls: An Unnatural History by John Lindow

An overview of trolls from the oldest records to the current day.

Some of the oldest must be deciphered. "Troll" in words often just means magic -- a "troll-woman" is a witch. "Given to the trolls" means "killed." Past that, there are legends, such as trolls caught by sunlight through the cleverness of some hero -- they may become landmarks and so useful instead of a danger to travelers. Or build churches, though you may have to guess their names to escape paying severely for it. And a law prohibits sitting outside to summon trolls.

Then fairy tales and illustrators, and when "troll" came into English -- mid nineteenth century -- on the heels of fairy tale collections. And modern day fantasy treatments, and troll dolls, and the various metaphorical uses of the modern day.

Weak in a few points -- he interprets tales that trolls can eat those who go out at night or grow fat on food cooked on Sunday as trolls enforcing human prohibitions, not that violations create a weakness they can exploit -- but a good overview.
Tags: lit crit, non-fiction: folklore

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