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A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture

Rory McTurk (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-6367-5
584 pages
May 2007, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture (1405163674) cover image
This major survey of Old Norse-Icelandic literature and culture demonstrates the remarkable continuity of Icelandic language and culture from medieval to modern times.

  • Comprises 29 chapters written by leading scholars in the field
  • Reflects current debates among Old Norse-Icelandic scholars
  • Pays attention to previously neglected areas of study, such as the sagas of Icelandic bishops and the fantasy sagas
  • Looks at the ways Old Norse-Icelandic literature is used by modern writers, artists and film directors, both within and outside Scandinavia
  • Sets Old Norse-Icelandic language and literature in its wider cultural context
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Notes on Contributors viii

Maps xii

Introduction 1
Rory McTurk

1 Archaeology of Economy and Society 7
Orri Vésteinsson

2 Christian Biography 27
Margaret Cormack

3 Christian Poetry 43
Katrina Attwood

4 Continuity? The Icelandic Sagas in Post-Medieval Times 64
Jón Karl Helgason

5 Eddic Poetry 82
Terry Gunnell

6 Family Sagas 101
Vésteinn Ólason

7 Geography and Travel 119
Judith Jesch

8 Historical Background: Iceland 870–1400 136
Helgi Þorláksson

9 Historiography and Pseudo-History 155
Stefanie Würth

10 Language 173
Michael Barnes

11 Late Prose Fiction (lygiso¨gur) 190
Matthew Driscoll

12 Late Secular Poetry 205
Shaun Hughes

13 Laws 223
Gudmund Sandvik and Jón Viðar Sigurðsson

14 Manuscripts and Palaeography 245
Guðvarður Már Gunnlaugsson

15 Metre and Metrics 265
Russell Poole

16 Orality and Literacy in the Sagas of Icelanders 285
Gísli Sigurðsson

17 Pagan Myth and Religion 302
Peter Orton

18 The Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse and Old Icelandic Literature 320
Andrew Wawn

19 Prose of Christian Instruction 338
Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir

20 Rhetoric and Style 354
Þórir Óskarsson

21 Romance (Translated riddarasögur) 372
Jürg Glauser

22 Royal Biography 388
Ármann Jakobsson

23 Runes 403
Patrik Larsson

24 Sagas of Contemporary History (Sturlunga saga): Texts and Research 427
Úlfar Bragason

25 Sagas of Icelandic Prehistory (fornaldarsögur) 447
Torfi H. Tulinius

26 Short Prose Narrative (þáttr) 462
Elizabeth Ashman Rowe and Joseph Harris

27 Skaldic Poetry 479
Diana Whaley

28 Social Institutions 503
Gunnar Karlsson

29 Women in Old Norse Poetry and Sagas 518
Judy Quinn

Index 536

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Rory McTurk is Professor of Icelandic Studies at the University of Leeds. Previously he has taught at the Universities of Lund and Copenhagen and at University College, Dublin. He is the author of Studies in Ragnars saga loðbrókar and its Major Scandinavian Analogues (1991) and Chaucer and the Norse and Celtic Worlds (2005), and has translated Kormáks saga for the Penguin Sagas of Warrior-Poets (2002).
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  • A major survey of Old Norse-Icelandic literature and culture
  • Comprises 29 chapters written by leading scholars in the field
  • Reflects current debates among Old Norse-Icelandic scholars
  • Pays attention to previously neglected areas of study, such as the sagas of Icelandic bishops and the fantasy sagas
  • Looks at the ways Old Norse-Icelandic literature is used by modern writers, artists and film directors, both within and outside Scandinavia
  • Sets Old Norse-Icelandic language and literature in its wider cultural context
See More
"In a series that already has a large number and wide range of excellent titles to its credit, I would venture opinion that this volume is one of its best...we have here a major publication of considerable value, not to mention its intrinsic interest. Obviously it will be a necessary acquisition for any specialist collection and for any academic collection where aspects of Old Norse literature and culture may be needed...this will also be a useful addition to major general collections."
Reference Reviews

"...its chapters are crammed full to bursting with facts and figures, references to primary and secondary sources, swift overviews of past scholarship, and (very importantly) present debates. This is ostensibly a reference book, to be consulted on particular issues and subjects. But as with all the best encyclopedias...browsing becomes addictive...Mc Turk's Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Studies is a great resource for the scholar or graduate student who may think, mistakenly, that he or she is familiar with this field."
The Review of English Studies

"No one could read the volume and not learn something, indeed a great deal"
TLS

“A comprehensive guide to Old Norse-Icelandic literature which functions as a basic reference work for scholars in neighboring disciplines, a reliable introduction for students, and an interesting and informative read for Old Norse scholars … a remarkable achievement and a valuable resource.”
Carolyne Larrington, St John’s College, Modern Language Review

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