A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture by Rory McTurk

By Rory McTurk

This significant survey of previous Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition includes 29 chapters written by way of best students within the box, over a 3rd of whom are Icelanders. whilst, it conveys a feeling of the mainland Scandinavian origins of the Icelandic humans, and displays the continued touch among Iceland and different international locations and cultures.

The quantity highlights present debates between outdated Norse-Icelandic students focusing on diversified points of the topic. insurance of conventional subject matters is complemented by means of fabric on formerly ignored components of research, reminiscent of the sagas of Icelandic bishops and the translated knights’ sagas. Chapters on ‘archaeology’, ‘social institutions’ and ‘geography and travel’ give the chance to view the literature in its wider cultural context whereas chapters on ‘reception’ and ‘continuity’ exhibit the ways that medieval Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition overflow into the trendy interval.

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A fragmentary collection of miracles of St Þorla´kr is followed by the sagas of apostles, and a manuscript containing the sagas of the holy Icelandic bishops follows them with the saga of Edward the Confessor. A distinction between the ‘religious’ and the ‘historical’ may have influenced the compiler of Sturlunga saga, which incorporates the early history of Guðmundr Arason, one of Iceland’s three holy men, while it makes no use of the sagas of the two recognized saints, Þorla´kr and Jo´n. The compiler also omitted tales of miracles found in his sources.

Of the translated sagas, some are translations of the lives of saints (vitae) while others (based on passiones, ‘martyrdom narratives’) focus on their deaths. Among the sagas which focus on the lives of their protagonists, material is chosen to illustrate the individual’s sanctity or devotion to the church rather than to produce an accurate historical record or character analysis. In none of these sagas (any more than in other Icelandic literature) is much said about the childhood of the protagonists, although brief anecdotes about their youth may highlight some aspect of an individual’s character or prefigure his or her future life.

1. Bergen. –31. maı´ 1997, Ra´ðstefnurit I, 147–66. ’ Saga-Book of the Viking Society XXV, 1–29. ): New Approaches to Medieval Iceland. Ve´steinsson, Orri, Einarsson, A´rni and Sigurgeirsson, Magnu´s A´. ’ Current Issues in Nordic Archaeology: Proceedings of the 21st Conference of Nordic Archaeologists, September 6th–9th 2001, Akureyri. Reykjavı´k. Ve´steinsson, Orri, McGovern, Thomas H. ’ Archaeologia islandica 2, 98–136. ) distinguished between sagas about Scandinavian royalty, Icelandic bishops and continental saints.

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