Abstract

The folk narrative archives, with their large amounts of source material, can provide valuable new insights into the narrative traditions of the past. This also applies to the legend traditions of women in former times and their relationship with women's experiences and social reality. This article examines common features found in the legend repertoires of 200 Icelandic women born in the late nineteenth century, which are kept in the Icelandic sound archives. These features are compared to those observed in the repertoires of a small sample of men found in the same archives; the aim is to establish whether and how the legends told by men and women differ. The key findings are that certain elements clearly differ significantly across gender lines, including preferences for different types of narratives, subjects, and choice of characters, highlighting the very different social realities of men and women in the past.

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