Icelandic folklore is rife with tales of elves and hidden people that inhabited hills and rocks in the landscape. But what do those elf stories really tell us about the Iceland of old and the people who lived there? In this book, author Alda Sigmundsdóttir presents twenty translated elf stories from Icelandic folklore, along with fascinating notes on the context from which they sprung.
The international media has had a particular infatuation with the Icelanders’ elf belief, generally using it to propagate some kind of “kooky Icelanders” myth. Yet Iceland’s elf folklore, at its core, reflects the plight of a nation living in abject poverty on the edge of the inhabitable world, and its people’s heroic efforts to survive, physically, emotionally and spiritually. That is what the stories of the elves, or hidden people, are really about.
To the Icelanders, stories of elves and hidden people are an integral part of the cultural and psychological fabric of their nation. They are a part of their identity, a reflection of the struggles, hopes, resilience and endurance of their people. All this and more is the subject of this book.