by Karin S. Heigl
English, German, Icelandic
and the Author’s notes
This is a folktale about the first and only dragon of Iceland. The romantic nature element of permeability is predominant in Icelandic folktales. They speak of landscapes or landmarks being created by supernatural beings such as tröll, “trolls,” or by natural phenomena; they speak of places being inhabited by the landvættir, “land spirits,” or creatures such as the Nykur, a water horse living in a lake. They also speak of transformations from seal into human and the other way around; this particular element is possibly of Celtic origin. Yet I have not found an account of a dragon, so I devised the following folktale about my favourite, for the most lovely and mysterious glacier in Iceland.
The typical Icelandic folktale is rich with inversions at the beginning of sentences, e.g. var hún instead of hún var; archaic words, and alternating use of present tense and the simple past. The latter represents the spoken language in which the folktales were traditionally presented. This archaic feel, as well as the melancholic tone, has been preserved in the German and English versions.
“Romantic nature” is a theoretical term I really like for this particular style of writing, but it does the Icelanders no justice. For them, nature and man really have been permeable, i.e. not as separate as many people see them today. Until today, a lot of Icelanders do not specifically believe in the landvættir but do not deny their existence either.
Copyright © 2016 by Karin S. Heigl