Mikael Males

Snorri’s Use of his Sources and the Saga Authors’ Use of Snorri

Tuesday February 10, 2015, at 16.30
Odda 101

Mikael Males
Mikael Males

This talk aims to investigate Snorri’s position in relation to the preceding tradition, as well as the subsequent use of his Edda as the most authoritative expression of that tradition. Snorri’s sources have been investigated before, but several aspects warrant closer scrutiny, such as: Did he use Litla-Skálda as a model for Skáldskaparmál and possibly even Gylfaginning? What were his methods for making Háttalykill into an authoritative treatise? How did his methods of interpretation of poetry differ between Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál?

The impact of Snorri’s Edda was profound, as can be seen from quite early on in stanzas in Sturlunga saga and þættir in Morkinskinna, and possibly even Egils saga, as well as somewhat later in Bandamanna saga and Grettis saga. I discuss all of these pseudonymous compositions in a forthcoming book, but in the talk I exemplify these trends by focusing on Grettis saga. It would seem that author and poet were one and the same person, and that he was active in the vicinity of Þingeyrarklaustur. Snorri’s Edda was all the rage among the brethren there, and the author, whether he was one of them or rather, for instance, located at the nearby Breiðabólstaður, shared their interests fully. He was one of the most gifted of the pseudonymous poets of the Icelandic High Middle Ages, and his poetic expression was deeply indebted to his study of the Edda.

Mikael Males is a postdoctoral fellow in Old Norse philology at the University of Oslo. He specializes in skaldic poetry and Icelandic grammatical literature. His main focus lies on medieval reception of the native tradition and on the interplay between Latin learning and local poetics.