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1001 Stories Collection

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

1001 easyofthesunwestofthemoon
Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Norwegian folk tale
First collected by Asbjornsen and Moe

Europe Animals Folk and fairy tales Magic
1001 , Text

A shape-shifting bear, a dauntless girl, a perilous journey, enchantment, magic and riding the winds to find the castle that lies east of the sun, west of the moon.

Story

A poor man is visited one night by a great white bear who promises him riches if his youngest daughter will come and live with him. The girl agrees and all is well until on a visit home she fails to keep a promise to the bear which sets in motion a chain of events that leads to the discovery of an enchantment and a great journey to find the castle East of the Sun, West of the Moon. With the help of three mysterious old ladies who offer her gifts, she flies on the back of all four winds to reach the castle and seek a happy ending.

Why we chose it

East of the Sun, West of the Moon is an epic quest story full of fairy tale magic – enchantments and magic gifts, a fearless girl on a perilous and impossible journey and a ride on the back of the North Wind.

Where it came from

East of the Sun, West of the Moon was one of the old stories included in a collection of Norwegian folk tales made by Asbjornsen and Moe, who were inspired by the Brothers Grimm to collect and preserve the folklore of their own country.

Where it went next

It was first translated into English in 1859 by Sir George Webbe Dasent in his book Popular Tales from the Norse.

More recently there have been picture book versions, including one illustrated by P J Lynch (1991) and another by Jackie Morris (2013).

Associated stories

There are many stories of animal husbands, many of them bewitched princes, from all over Europe including The Frog Prince, Beauty and the Beast, and The Black Bull of Norroway. There are similarities with the Ancient Greek story of Cupid and Psyche.

The four winds and particularly the North Wind, are frequently found in north European stories. In another Norwegian story, The Lad who went to the North Wind, the wind gives the boy magic gifts. In George Macdonald Fraser’s novel At the Back of the North Wind, the boy Diamond flies at night with the North Wind who takes him on a number of adventures.

Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Norwegian folk tale
First collected by Asbjornsen and Moe

Europe Animals Folk and fairy tales Magic
1001 , Text

Story Resources

  • East of the Sun West of the Moon story text PDF (47.551 KB)
    Download