Fræðimaðurinn Peter Hallberg gerði ítarlegan stílfræðilegan samanburð á fjölmörgum forníslenskum bókmenntaverkum. Ein niðurstaða hans var að mjög náin líkindi væru með Heimskringlu og Egils sögu og taldi hann allar líkur til að sami höfundur hafi samið bæði verkin.
Margir hafa tekið undir niðurstöður Hallbergs en gagnrýnisraddir hafa einnig komið fram, ekki síst síðustu ár. Jonna Louis-Jensen hefur fært rök gegn kenningum Hallbergs um Snorra Sturluson og rökstyður hún meðal annars að Heimskringla sé ekki öll verk eins höfundar. Sigurjón Páll Ísaksson hefur einnig tekið höfundarverk Snorra til endurskoðunar. Hann túlkar samband Heimskringlu við Ólafs sögu hina sérstöku á annan hátt en viðteknast hefur verið. Einnig hefur Sigurjón gert því skóna að Snorri eigi hlut í fleiri konungasögum. Þriðji fræðimaðurinn sem sett hefur fram róttækar hugmyndir um samband konungasagnanna er Alan J. Berger. Hann hefur rökstutt að Heimskringla sé stytt útgáfa af texta líkum þeim sem varðveittur er í handritunum Huldu og Hrokkinskinnu.
Í erindinu bregst Haukur við þessum nýju hugmyndum og metur röksemdirnar. Hann kynnir einnig eigin rannsóknir á stílfræðilegum einkennum textanna sem um ræðir. Tölvutæknin auðveldar mjög samanburð af því tagi sem Hallberg fékkst við en þær niðurstöður sem þannig fást verða aldrei traustari en hin textafræðilega undirstaða. Jafnframt er því nauðsynlegt að athuga gaumgæfilega handritageymd þeirra texta sem skoðaðir eru.
Haukur Þorgeirsson lauk doktorsprófi í íslenskri málfræði 2013 og gegnir nú starfi rannsóknarlektors við handritasvið Stofnunar Árna Magnússonar. Hann fæst við rannsóknir á málfræði, bragfræði, stílfræði og textafræði.
On the Use of Stories about Outlaw Heroes in the Íslendingasögur
Thursday March 26, 2015, at 16.30 Oddi 101
The three main Íslendingasögur about outlaw heroes have long fascinated scholars and readers alike, and the question why medieval Icelanders told tales in which social outsiders play the part of the hero has been the concern of scholarship for a number of years. At the heart of that scholarship has been a preoccupation with the characters and their families, for these families play a prominent role in the texts: Gísli is outlawed for killing one brother-in-law to avenge another; Hörðr does not trust any of his male relatives, and this eventually leads to his downfall; and Grettir’s difficult relationship with his father seems to lead to his reckless and arrogant behaviour later in life. But why are these stories about outlaw heroes so focussed on the relationships between the individual and his kin group?
In this paper, I intend to address this question by looking at the outlaw as a monster. The monster, as a creature that points towards or even embodies meaning beyond itself, lends itself well to such an investigation into social and cultural concerns whose reflection we might see in the literary products of said culture. So far, outlaws have not been included into the corpus of Íslendingasögur monsters, and therefore, the aim of this paper is ultimately twofold: firstly, to establish the outlaw as monstrous based on a revised view of the concept of monstrosity, and secondly, to address the connection with and significance of family trouble in the sagas of Icelandic outlaw heroes.
Rebecca Merkelbach has studied in Tübingen, Dublin and Reykjavík and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge. Her research focusses on the representation and use of human marginal and monstrous figures in the Íslendingasögur.
Contests of Wits, Word Games and the Historicity of the Fornaldarsögur
Tuesday March 24, 2015, at 16.30 Oddi 101
The fornaldarsögur have traditionally been associated with viking-style heroics but they also contain a fair amount of verbal wit and wisdom. The riddles in Hervara saga and Ragnar loðbrók’s apparently paradoxical requirements for his first meeting with Áslaug/Kráka are just two examples. Taking my thesis on Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra as a starting point, I look at the concept of truth developed through such verbal contests and riddles which are found within the genre, and an attempt is made to show their relevance for the ongoing debates concerning historicity and fictionality. It has been argued that our modern concepts of factual modes of writing as opposed to imaginative ones cannot be applied to Old Norse-Icelandic literature. While this is certainly true, narratorial apologiae show that scribes/authors were aware of competing claims as to how narrative material related to people’s lived experiences in both the present and the past. In brainteasers and puzzles we witness another way in which writers have developed and revealed a playfully complex conception of veracity as well as the way in which words can represent or distort reality. I will argue that these elements have encouraged readers old and new to reject any monolithic interpretation of the distant past and push audiences towards a ludic and intellectually engaged interaction with legendary saga literature.
Philip Lavender has recently successfully defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Copenhagen. Prior to that he studied English Literature and Medieval Studies at Oxford University. He is currently a research assistant at the Arnamagnæan Institute in Copenhagen. His research focusses on fornaldarsögur, rímur, saga reception and Scandinavian intellectual history.
For settling in a distant ocean island you first have to be able to cross the ocean. History shows that this threshold, involving both knowledge, skill and intention, is far from trivial. The author of the present paper has previously written on several aspects of this, especially that of navigation in the ocean where you do not see land for days or weeks.
In this paper we will look at the present archaeological record on the development of ships in Scandinavia in the Viking age. It turns out that this shows an interesting change in shipbuilding data which seems to coincide in time with the Viking expansion westwards to Iceland and other North-Atlantic lands.
Interesting and novel observations also emerge when you compare the Atlantic traffic of the Vikings with the gradual settlement of humans in the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, the discovery, exploration and settlement in the islands
of this area involved the same problems of seamanship of all kinds as here in the North-Atlantic. This will be further elaborated on in the paper, hoping to widen and deepen our understanding of the seafaring aspect of the settlement in Iceland.
Þorsteinn Vilhjálmsson is professor emeritus of physics and history of science at the University of Iceland. He has written books and papers on the general history of natural science as well as on aspects of Old Norse science and related skills. He was also the chief editor of the Science Web of the University (Vísindavefur) in the period 2000-2010.
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Anders Gade Jensen
The historiography of Landnámabók in Hauksbók
Thursday March 19, 2015, at 16.30 Oddi 101
In this lecture, based on parts of my 2013 dissertation, I will contextualize Landnámabók as a piece of historiography written at a time in Europe when the writing of history was a prolific preoccupation of emerging aristocracies.
It has been a well-known, albeit at times controversial, fact in the discipline of history for decades that the writing of historical prose narrative serves more profound epistemological purposes than the mere recounting of past events. However, the epistemological problems facing the scholar trying to make sense of the narrative structures of medieval texts are profound since we have very limited access to the worldview of the medieval Icelander. Nevertheless, we do have access to historical narratives formed under different political and geographical circumstances.
The blossom of historical writing in the latter half of the 13th century was not merely an Icelandic phenomenon. Especially in France a chronicle tradition bloomed which served its purpose by granting the aristocracy a genealogy that not only goes back to Adam, but also connected the current power structure to the divine ordering of the world.
Firstly, I will attempt an interpretation of Landnámabók in the Hauksbók compilation of texts that shows how it might fit into the overall epistemological structure of the manuscript, following a notion that Hauksbók might present a semi-coherent worldview. Secondly, I will discuss the similarities and differences between the historiography of Iceland as told in Landnámabók compared to its continental counterparts and give some possible interpretations of these differences.
Anders Gade Jensen is currently working at the Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University. He defended his PhD on Landnámabók in 2013. Some main research interests are cultural memory, historiography, geography and place-construction in medieval Scandinavia.