Old Icelandic Literature and Society

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This book provides a comprehensive account of Old Icelandic literature within its social context. An international team of specialists examines the ways in which the unique medieval social experiment in Iceland, a kingless society without an established authority structure, inspired a wealth of innovative writing composed in the Icelandic vernacular. The book shows how Icelanders explored their uniqueness through poetry, mythologies, metrical treatises, religious writing, and through saga, a new genre that textualized their history and incorporated oral traditions in a written form.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a well-conceived project..." SPECULUM

"eminently well-considered and well-written overview of the nature of medieval Icelandic society and its various social, political, and legal institutions in relation to its literary production and the way in which literature was used...the volume is a stimulating and enjoyable book, especially if read piecemeal and not in one sitting...An important factor to the credit of the volume is its detailed subject and name Index and the full Bioliographies and often-detailes notes at the end of each article, which enable the reader to follow each contributor's tracks." Envoi Spring 2000

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction Margaret Clunies Ross; 1. Social institutions and belief systems of medieval Iceland (ca. 870–1400) and their relation to literary production Preben Meulengracht Sørensen; 2. From orality to literacy in medieval Iceland Judy Quinn; 3. Poetry and its changing importance in medieval Icelandic culture Kari Ellen Gade; 4. Øláfr Pø∂arson hvítaskáld and oral poetry in the west of Iceland ca. 1250 Gísli Sigur∂sson; 5. The conservation and reinterpretation of myth in medieval Icelandic writings Margaret Clunies Ross; 6. Medieval Iceland artes poeticae Stephen Tranter; 7. A useful past: historical writing in medieval Iceland Diana Whaley; 8. Sagas of Icelanders as the literary representation of a new social space Jürg Glauser; 9. The contemporary sagas and their social context Gu∂rún Nordal; 10. The matter of the north: fiction and uncertain identities in thirteenth-century Iceland Torfi H. Tulinius; 11. Romance in Iceland Geraldine Barnes; 12. The Bible and biblical interpretation in medieval Iceland Ian Kirby; 13. Sagas of saints Margaret Cormack.

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