Principles for Oral Narrative Research

9780253341754: Hardback
Release Date: 22nd June 1992

Dimensions: 127 x 203

Number of Pages: 244

Series Folklore Studies in Translation

Indiana University Press

Principles for Oral Narrative Research

Written by and Edited by
Axel Olrik
Translated by
Kirsten Wolf
Jody Jensen
Hardback / £28.99

... Wolf and Jensen's English translation of the entire book puts the famous laws into a very useful perspective... " —Choice

... it is full of clever ideas and observations, and alive with the personality of the writer—lucid, astute and fair." —British Folklore Studies Forum

Olrik’s Grundsætninger sets forth a number of the basic principles for the study of folklore and outlines his "epic laws" of oral narrative. With this long-awaited translation, English readers now have available the "rules" which became the foundation of many folklore programs and the basis for the study of folk narrative.

Foreword by Dan Ben-Amos
Translators’ Preface by Kirsten Wolf and Jody Jensen
Introduction by Bengt Holbek

1. Introduction: The Narrative as Folklore
2. Individual Recordings of Folklore: An Evaluation of Narrative Sources
A. Narrative and Recording
B. The Inner Character of the Tradition
C. Traditions of a Literary Origin
3. The Structure of the Narrative: The Epic Laws
4. The Life of the Narrative
A. The Life and Transformation of the Narrative
B. Horizon and Localization
C. Survival
5. The Original Form and Development of the Narrative
A. The Relationship between Narrateive Traditions
B. Variant and Doublet
C. Views on the Structure and Transmission of the Narrative
D. Views on Narrative Material
6. Concerning the Individual Genres of Folklore
A. Tales
B. Heroic Poetry
C. Folk Legends
D. Oral Narrative and History

Appendix: From the Domain of the Epic Laws
A. The Patriarchal History of Israel
B. Conclusion: A Defense of the Finnish-Danish Method

Information and References

A. About This Edition, by Hans Ellekilde
B. The Origin of the Work, by Hans Ellekilde
C. Notes to the Individual Chapters, by Axel Olrik/Hans Ellekilde
D. Bibliography, by Kirsten Wolf and Jody Jensen


AXEL OLRIK (1864–1917) was Professor of Folklore at the University of Copenhagen and founder of the Danish Folklore Archives. He specialized in medieval Scandinavian folklore, ballads, legends, and comparative religion. Three of his books have appeared in English: The Heroic Legends of Denmark, Viking Civilization, and A Book of Danish Ballads.