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From the Publisher
". . . compelling and richly detailed . . ." -Kai Heidemann, H-SAE
This cultural and environmental history sweeps across the dramatic North Atlantic landscape, ...
This cultural and environmental history sweeps across the dramatic North Atlantic landscape, exploring its unusual geography, saga narratives, language, culture, and politics, and analyzing its emergence as a distinctive and symbolic part of Europe. The earliest visions of a wild frontier, filled with dangerous and unpredictable inhabitants, eventually gave way to images of beautiful, well-managed lands, inhabited by simple but virtuous people living close to nature. This transformation was accomplished by state-sponsored natural histories of Iceland which explained that the monsters described in medieval and Renaissance travel accounts did not really exist, and by artists who painted the Icelandic landscapes to reflect their fertile and regulated qualities. Literary scholars and linguists who came to Iceland and Greenland in the nineteenth century related the stories and the languages of the "wild North" to those of their home countries.
Karen Oslund is assistant professor of world history at Towson University in Maryland.
The North Atlantic 8
Faroe Islands 125
Amid the Mists of Northern Waters and Words William Cronon vii
Imagining Iceland, Narrating the North 3
1 Icelandic Landscapes
Natural Histories and National Histories 30
2 Nordic by Nature
Classifying and Controlling Flora and Fauna in Iceland 61
3 Mastering the World's Edges
Technology, Tools, and Material Culture in the North Atlantic 82
4 Translating and Converting
Language and Religion in Greenland 104
5 Reading Backward
Language and the Sagas in the Faroe Islands 123
Whales and Men
Contested Scientific Ethics and Cultural Politics in the North Atlantic 152