Clover uncovers the seemingly inadequate evidence-finding process in Njáls saga and discusses how the legal process can be transmitted to the saga’s narrative structure.
Iceland is an odd place with an odd history. Despite being ranked among the wealthiest nations today, for much of its history it was left out of the growth and development of culture and technology throughout the Medieval period. It has never been a particularly hospitable environment for human habitation. Wind-blasted, cold, and rocky, it was an island left unsettled by humans long after it was discovered.
The Icelandic sagas of the Norse people are thousand-year-old chronicles of brave deeds and timeless romances, but how true to Viking life were they?
Violence, even murder, perpetuated this cycle of revenge. This code of retribution can be broken down further into the following dimensions: the individuals involved, the appropriate actions as deemed by Viking society, and any extenuating circumstances, such as supernatural strength or the wronged party’s reluctance to seek revenge.
Despite countless manifestations in literature of many traditions and cultures, the archetype of vengeance as a theme is a common and current one
Along with the accomplishments of skill in arms and verse-making, many a saga hero is credited with a knowledge of law and legal procedure. Many of these heroes are shown duelling with their enemiesin a series of legal disputes forming a series of chapters.
In thirteenth century Iceland, however, the dragon consists of more than the mere imagining of man; it is a creature that is imbued with centuries of history, biology, theology, and mythology synthesized into an oftentimes wholly logical and other times completely fantastical beast.
It must be stressed that the concept of childhood is certainly not an easy one. One is tempted to ask whether any generalisations about medieval or modern attitudes to childhood might not pose problems.
An interview with author Nancy Brown on her latest medieval offering: “Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths”.
There are many examples in Njáls saga of characters who fail to adhere to their assigned gender role and as a result perpetuate the chain of events that leads the saga to its grisly conclusion.
A major goal of this thesis is to not only interpret the representations of women from these sagas, but also to place these representations in the context of the time and the writers. Icelanders wrote these sagas a couple centuries after the Viking age ended and are based nearly entirely on oral tradition.
Inspired by Njáls saga and Laxdæla saga, the novel Fire in the Ice by American novelist Dorothy James Roberts is one of numerous modern rewritings of classical and medieval literature.