On the history of fylgjur.


Icelandic folktales of the Fylgjur group have long been dissociated from the fylgjur, or attendant spirits, of Old Norse literature and pagan belief, a view supported by both Jón Árnason and the eminent folklorist Einar Ólafur Sveinsson. Despite their obvious differences, significant similarities persist between the earlier and later fylgjur figures. The later fylgjur represent a much changed version of their medieval ancestors. Understanding how fylgjur from the earlier and the later era relate to one another facilitates a better understanding of how belief evolved throughout religious development in Iceland, starting in the pre-Christian era, and moving through Christianization and beyond. Many of these later folktales have not yet been translated into English, and thus remain outside the purview of the general scholar. I have therefore included translations of three representative tales from this group.