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

By Rory McTurk

ISBN-10: 0631235027

ISBN-13: 9780631235026

This significant survey of previous Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition includes 29 chapters written via prime students within the box, over a 3rd of whom are Icelanders. even as, it conveys a feeling of the mainland Scandinavian origins of the Icelandic humans, and displays the continuing touch among Iceland and different nations and cultures.

The quantity highlights present debates between previous Norse-Icelandic students focusing on diversified facets of the topic. assurance of conventional subject matters is complemented through fabric on formerly overlooked parts of research, equivalent to the sagas of Icelandic bishops and the translated knights’ sagas. Chapters on ‘archaeology’, ‘social institutions’ and ‘geography and travel’ give the opportunity to view the literature in its wider cultural context whereas chapters on ‘reception’ and ‘continuity’ show the ways that medieval Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition overflow into the fashionable interval.

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Extra info for A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)

Sample text

A list of saints mentioned in such tales can be found in Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook (1963), which remains the most comprehensive catalogue of West Norse literature about saints. For more recent discussion on sources, dating and manuscript relationships see Cormack (1994: 239– 45) and Kalinke (1996). 1 Iceland formally adopted Christianity in the year 999 or 1000, at the instance of O´la´fr Tryggvason, king of Norway, who also imposed it in his native land. There the process was completed during the reign of ´ la´fr Haraldsson (St Olaf), 1015–30.

The priests so trained could in turn educate others, and it is probably in this way that most boys learned Latin. 3 It was therefore essential to translate the writings of the church into the vernacular. The work had begun by the middle of the twelfth century, when the author of the First Grammatical Treatise refers to the existence of þy´ðingar helgar – ‘holy expositions’ – in Icelandic. These were most probably homilies or biblical commentary, for the use of priests who might not be able to compose or translate such material for themselves.

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. One of the two medieval manuscripts of Sturlunga also includes the saga of Bishop A´rni Þorla´ksson, which deals with political matters. Arguably the sagas of the other Icelandic bishops who were not saints (Pa´ll Jo´nsson of Ska´lholt and La´rentı´us Ka´lfsson of Ho´lar) should be classified with 28 Margaret Cormack contemporary sagas as well.

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