By Rory McTurk
This significant survey of outdated Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition contains 29 chapters written by way of major students within the box, over a 3rd of whom are Icelanders.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 points of the topic. insurance of conventional themes is complemented by means of fabric on formerly ignored components of analysis, corresponding to the sagas of Icelandic bishops and the translated knightsвЂ™ sagas. Chapters on вЂarchaeologyвЂ™, вЂsocial institutionsвЂ™ and вЂgeography and travelвЂ™ give the chance to view the literature in its wider cultural context whereas chapters on вЂreceptionвЂ™ and вЂcontinuityвЂ™ reveal the ways that medieval Norse-Icelandic literature and tradition overflow into the fashionable interval.
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Additional resources for A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture)
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.
It therefore makes good sense for an archaeologist to stress these changes in a Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic literature and culture. It does not follow at all from the fundamental nature of the changes undergone by Norse society in the intervening period that the sagas need to be considered fictitious. The fact of this transformation does, however, mean that any student of the sagas who wishes to use them as guides to Viking-Age society and culture must proceed with the utmost care, and consider at every turn how the differences between the time of writing and the times in which the stories are set may have affected the creation of the narrative.
Political or institutional interests may also have been at work. Karlsson (2000b) has pointed out that two of the translations of the saga of Thomas Becket appear to correspond to periods of stress between the Icelandic church and lay powers, while the third was probably by Arngrı´mr Brandsson, author of a saga about Guðmundr Arason, whose career he represents as paralleling Becket’s. In addition to glossing and elaborating the contents of the sagas, the new generation of redactors ornamented them with rhetorical devices derived from both Latin and native tradition.