Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction by Heather O'Donoghue

By Heather O'Donoghue

From runic inscriptions to sagas, this booklet introduces readers to the vibrant international of outdated Norse-Icelandic literature.

  • An creation to the vibrant international of previous Norse-Icelandic literature.
  • Covers mythology and kinfolk sagas, in addition to much less famous parts, resembling oral story-telling, Eddaic verse and skaldic verse.
  • An creation is helping readers to understand the language and tradition of the 1st settlers in Iceland.
  • Looks on the reception of Old-Norse-Icelandic literature over the a while, as perspectives of the vikings have replaced.
  • Shows how a complete variety of authors from Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney were stimulated via outdated Norse-Icelandic literature.

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The earliest Icelandic accounts of the settlement are not reliable as history. What we learn of the settlement of Iceland from later native sources may be unreliable on two counts: the history may be at best selective, at worst deliberately distorted; or the narrative may be framed in a way which makes modern readers suppose it to be history even though it may be fiction. When we come to look at the Icelandic family sagas, which take as their subject the lives of the families of these settlers, similar blurring of historical fact and naturalistic fiction, compounded by the saga authors’ adherence to a style more historical than fictional, means that the picture we have of early Icelandic society may be authentic, invented, or somewhere between the two.

Unnr is to behave affectionately to Hrútr, and thus lull him into a false sense of security. In spring, when he is scheduled to make a trip away from home, Unnr must take to her bed, pretending to be ill. ). Once Hrútr has left, Unnr must name witnesses and declare her divorce from Hrútr in two locations: by their marital bed, and by the main door of their farmhouse. She must then escape – taking an unpredictable route – to her father’s house. The procedure set out in the saga narrative may actually represent an authentic pre-Christian divorce ritual, and it was perhaps open to women as well as men.

And second, plot, in the sense of a rearrangement of a sequence of events to achieve some artistic or moral end, is almost entirely lacking in saga narrative. Events in a saga are presented in rigorously naturalistic chronological order. Both of these conditions have the effect of producing a narrative which is more like chronicle than prose fiction. The absence of plot as a device for delivering praise and blame is very evident in Hrafnkels saga. Because the saga is much shorter than most family sagas, and follows only one narrative thread – the career of Hrafnkell himself – it is easier to distinguish true plot from the tremendously rich complexity of a saga such as Njáls saga, which has a huge cast of characters and storylines, all intersecting and connecting rather as conventional plotlines do.

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