“All the World’s Reward” presents ninety-eight tales from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Swedish-speaking Finland, and Iceland. Each area is represented by the complete recorded repertoire of a single storyteller. Such a focus helps place the stories in the context of the communities in which they were performed and also reveals how individual folk artists used the medium of oral literature to make statements about their lives and their world. Some preferred jocular stories and others wonder tales; some performed mostly for adults, others for children; some used storytelling to criticize society, and others spun wish fulfillment tales to find relief from a harsh reality.
For the most part collected a century ago, the stories were gleaned from archives and printed sources; the Icelandic repertoire was collected on audiotape in the 1960s. Each repertoire was selected by a noted folklorist. Introductions to the storytellers and collectors and commentaries and references for the tales are provided. A general introduction, a comprehensive bibliography, and an index of the tales according to Aarne-Thompson’s typology are also included. Period illustrations add charm to the stories.