Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series

Yoav Tirosh & Michael MacPherson

On Ljósvetninga saga’s Redactions and What They Teach Us About Reading the Íslendingasögur

Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 16.30
Lögberg 101

Yoav Tirosh — Michael MacPherson

Ljósvetninga saga, one of the less-discussed Íslendingasögur, is a text that poses many questions to its editors and scholars. The text’s main challenge lies in its complex manuscript transmission and its two redactions. The redactions at times offer a very similar plot and narrative, told in almost the exact same words, while at other occasions entire stories are missing/added or told in a significantly altered manner in terms of details and order of events. This variance fed into the twentieth-century freeprose-bookprose debate in regards to the Íslendingasögur origins. When that settled down, so did the interest in this saga.

Many misunderstandings and false assumptions lay behind the interpretation of Ljósvetninga saga, which has much to do with the drama of mid-twentieth century scholarship, with each side inter-preting the evidence in a manner that suits their scholarly goals. Nowhere is this more evident than in the editions of the saga, and its translations. These manipulate the redactions’ texts, mis-lead the readers into a false sense of unity, and in the case of the A-redaction, give the impression of a much fuller and more extant text than we actually possess.

This paper will look into the issue of Ljósvetninga saga’s redactions and offer several ways of sal-vaging them: A manuscript-oriented generic one, a memory-oriented solution, and a literary in-terpretation that settles some of the text’s alleged discrepancies. Finally, a segment of the talk will be delivered by Michael MacPherson, who will discuss the stylometric analysis that we have con-ducted on the saga’s two redactions.

Stylometric studies on Old Norse literature have to-date been limited to widely-available and often heavily-editing versions of texts as their base. In contrast, the unique transmission of Ljósvetninga saga defies many assumptions made by traditional stylometric methods. This study aims to high-light the pitfalls of these traditional methods and to advance a more manuscript-informed stylo-metric methodology. Taken together, these results help to illuminate the various textual relation-ships that are at play within and without Ljósvetninga saga.

Yoav Tirosh is a post-doc researcher at the University of Iceland Disability before Disability project. He has recently finished his Ph.D. thesis, which dealt with issues of memory, genre and scholarship in Ljósvetninga saga.

Michael MacPherson holds an M.A. from the University of Iceland in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies and is currently undertaking a Ph.D. at the same university, writing on the Codex Regius of the Snorra Edda.

The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.