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Long Lives of Short Sagas : The Irrepressibility of Narrative and the Case of Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra

Authors Philip Lavender
ISBN 9788740832495
ISSN 0108-8408
Publisher University Press of Southern Denmark
Place of publication Odense
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Language en
Keywords sagas rímur ballads Old Norse humour gender philology manuscripts antiquarianism
Subject categories General Literature Studies


Over the last few decades, a number of works have appeared which have increased our knowledge and appreciation of the pre-modern Icelandic genre of fornaldarsögur (often translated into English as legendary sagas, heroic sagas or the sagas of ancient times). This monograph builds upon the preceding research but takes as a case study a short, late version of the genre. By looking at a peripheral narrative - one which many would exclude and ignore when considering the genre - new perspectives on many of the questions which researchers put to this genre can be provided. Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra turns out to be a story, which has served many functions for multiple audiences. By tracing the complete history of this work, from its origins, through multiple manuscript witnesses, its use in Scandinavian intellectual history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and through to the many poetic reworkings produced in Iceland up to the twentieth century, a comprehensive picture is produced which allows us to see how a short story can have a much fuller life than is immediately apparent if we look at it merely as a brief saga alongside its more extensive and polished generic siblings.

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