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1001 Stories Collection

Death in a Nutshell

Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition European folk tale
Author Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe
Collection Norwegian Folk Tales
Author Duncan Williamson
Collection The Flight of the Golden Bird: Scottish Folktales for Children.

A thought provoking folk tale with a serious message

Story

A son tries to defeat death to save his mother but discovers that you can’t have life without death.

Why we chose it

There is lots to think about and discuss in this story, which explores why things must die. It is one of the stories from our original audio stories collection.

Where it came from

A version from Norway can be found in Norwegian Folk Tales by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe.Like the Brothers Grimm, Asbjørnsen and Moe collected the traditional stories that had been passed down for centuries in order to ensure they survived.

Another version comes from the Scottish travelers tradition. The great Scottish storyteller Duncan Williamson told it and it appears in Williamson’s own book, The Flight of the Golden Bird: Scottish Folktales for Children.

Where it went next

Eric Maddern created a picture book version called Death in a Nut.

Associated stories

Death can be found as a character in folk stories across the world. In the Brothers Grimm story, Godfather Death a man asks Death to be godfather to his thirteenth child. In Slovenian story Jump in My Sack Death is outwitted by a young man. Death is sometimes a man, sometimes a woman.

Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition European folk tale
Author Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe
Collection Norwegian Folk Tales
Author Duncan Williamson
Collection The Flight of the Golden Bird: Scottish Folktales for Children.