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Jørgen Moe

File:Jørgen Moe.jpg
Jørgen Moe
Adolf Closs
File:Norske Folkeeventyr.djvu
Norske Folkeeventyr
Asbjørnsen and Moe (1874)
Asbjørnsen and Moe (1915)

Jørgen Engebretsen Moe (22 April 1813 – 27 March 1882) was a Norwegian folklorist, bishop, poet and author. He is best known for the Norske Folkeeventyr, a collection of Norwegian folk tales which he edited in collaboration with Peter Christen Asbjørnsen.[1]


Jørgen Engebretsen Moe was born at the farm of Mo, at Hole in Ringerike. He was the son of local farmer and politician Engebret Olsen Moe. He first met Asbjørnsen while the two were preparing for exams at Norderhov and soon found they had a shared interest in folklore.[2]

From 1841 Moe traveled almost every summer through the southern parts of Norway, collecting traditions in the mountains. In 1845 he was appointed professor of theology in the Norwegian Military Academy. However, Moe had long intended to take holy orders, and in 1853 he did so. He became for ten years a resident chaplain in Krødsherad at Olberg Church and Sigdal Church in Sigdal.[3]

At his first parish he found inspiration for many of his most famous poems, like den gamle Mester (The Old Master) and Sæterjentens Søndag (Sunday at the Mountain Pastures). In 1863 he moved to Drammen and became parish priest of Bragernes, then in 1870 he moved again to Vestre Aker, close to Christiania. In 1875 he became bishop in the Diocese of Agder, based in Kristiansand. He was a much beloved bishop, and his teaching had a great impact on his contemporaries.[4]

Moe has a special claim on critical attention in regard to his lyrical poems, of which a small collection appeared in 1850. Moe felt strongly that writing should be "objective," in the sense that it removed the ego from the narrative. Still, he strove to build and maintain a literary aesthetic in his work. He wrote little original verse, but in his slender volume are to be found many pieces of exquisite delicacy and freshness. Moe also published a delightful collection of prose stories for children, I Brønden og i Tjernet (In the Well and in the Tarn), 1851; and En liden Julegave (A Little Christmas Present), 1860. Asbjørnsen and Moe had the advantage of an admirable style of narrative prose. It was usual that the vigor came from Asbjørnsen and the charm from Moe, but it seems that from the long habit of writing in unison they had come to adopt almost precisely identical modes of literary expression. [5]

Moe was appointed Knight of the Order of St. Olav in 1873 and was made commander of the 1st cross class in 1881. During January 1882, he resigned his diocese due to failing health, and he died the following March. His son, Moltke, continued his father's work in folklore and fairy tales and became the first professor of the subject at Christiania University.[6]

In 1881, Moe was appointed a Commander of the Order of St. Olav.

Impact on Norwegian culture

Together with Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, the impact of Jørgen Moe on Norwegian culture was enormous. To Norwegians, the names Asbjørnsen and Moe have become synonymous with traditional folk tales, the way the name Brothers Grimm is associated with German tales. Not only did they collect and secure parts of the wealth of Norwegian fairy tales and edit them for common readers, but in doing this, they also contributed to the development of the Norwegian language.

Even if other countries have a rich folk literature, Norwegians will normally claim that theirs, through the work of Asbjørnsen and Moe, is one of the most original and rich. Their work constitutes a very important part of Norwegian identity. Askeladden (Ash Boy), a character whose creativity and resourcefulness always wins him the Princess and half the Kingdom, is seen as something typically Norwegian. Some of his works of poetry are still cherished, not least because of the tunes set to them. His achievements in the Church are now mostly forgotten, except locally.[7]

Ringerikes Museum

Ringerikes Museum is the regional museum for the municipalities of Hole and Ringerike in Buskerud county. Ringerikes Museum is located in Hønefoss at the site of the former Norderhov rectory where Asbjørnsen and Moe first met. It is now the local museum for the Ringerike region and contains a collection of Asbjørnsen and Moe memorabilia. The museum is also noted for its collection of the private belongings of Jørgen Moe. In the 1930s, Marie Moe, Jørgen Moe's daughter, provided a gift consisting of several hundred objects from Jorgen Moe's private home.[8]

Major works

  • Samling af Sange, Folkeviser og Stev i norske Allmuedialekter, 1840; enlarged edition, 1869, with melodies by Lindeman
  • Norske folkeeventyr, 1841–1852 (with Asbjørnsen); expanded version 1882; English version by George Webbe Dasent, 1859
  • Digte, 1849 (poems)
  • I Brønden og i Kjærnet, 1851 (juvenile stories and sermons based on folk poems)
  • At hænge på juletreet, 1855
  • En liten julegave, 1860
  • Samlede skrifter, 1877 (collected works, excepting the folk stories)



Other sources

  • Hodne, Ørnulf, Jørgen Moe og folkeeventyrene: En studie i nasjonalromantisk folkloristikk (Universitetsforlaget. 1979) (Norwegian)
  • Halvorsen, J. B., Norsk Forfatter-Lexikon (Vol. IV, Christiania 1896) (Norwegian)

External links

Preceded by
Jacob von der Lippe
Bishop of Kristiansand
Succeeded by
Johan Jørgen Tandberg

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