The Formula in the Icelandic Family Saga
Miðvikudaginn 25. október 2017 kl. 16.30
It is well known that Icelandic saga prose contains formulas, but very little thorough research has been devoted to them so far. The attempts to analyze them precisely as formulas have usually taken their starting point in the so-called Oral-Formulaic Theory and the theories of Milman Parry and Albert Lord. But in the Oral-Formulaic Theory, the formula as a phenomenon was closely connected with the metrical form and the rapidity of the improvized oral performance in verse, two features without relevance to the prose genre of Íslendingasögur, which stands in focus for my research. In my analysis of the saga formulas, I will rather connect with modern linguistic theory on formulaic language and to folkloristic theory on oral tradition. The lecture will discuss the function, meaning and form of the formulas in the Íslendingasögur. A selection of saga formulas will be discussed, such as X hét maðr; tókusk með þeim góðar ástir; and X vanði kvámur sínar til Y. In the lecture, I will argue that the formula use in the Íslendingasögur is of fundamental importance for the stylistic/literary character of the genre and that a lack of understanding of the saga formulas several times has led to misinterpretations of central saga episodes.
Daniel Sävborg is Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Tartu since 2010; before that he held research positions at Uppsala University and Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum. He has background in studies of Classical Greek and Comparative literature and holds a Ph.D. from Stockholm University with a dissertation on grief and elegy in Eddic heroic poetry. He has published on on topics such as love and emotions in Old Norse literature, the Uppsala Edda and its relation to the other Snorra Edda versions, the supernatural in Old Norse literature, folkloristic approaches to the saga literature, courtly style vs. saga style in the riddarasögur, Old Norse and Old Swedish sources to medieval Swedish history, oral tradition behind medieval Nordic historiography, tradition and originality in the post-classical Íslendingasögur, and the importance of the conversion in Njáls saga.
The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.
Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda á dönsku
Nýjar þýðingar kynntar í hádegismálstofu
Fimmtudaginn 26. október 2017 kl. 12–13
Hinn íslenski sagnaflokkur fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda kemur um þessar mundir út í nýjum dönskum þýðingum. Þetta er fyrsta heildarþýðing fornaldarsagna á dönsku. Þótt sögurnar fjalli um fornkonunga á Norðurlöndum — og ekki síst í Danmörku — hefur um helmingur þeirra aldrei áður komið út á dönsku. Snemma á 19. öld þýddi Carl Christian Rafn úrval fornaldarsagna og gaf út í þremur bindum (1821–1826; aukin endurútgáfa 1829–1830) en hann undanskildi listrænar perlur eins og Gautreks sögu, Hrólfs sögu Gautrekssonar, Egils sögu einhenda og Ásmundar berserkjabana og Bósa sögu, enda fannst honum að fornaldarsögur „fra den poetiske Side betragtede, [ikke] have nogen besynderlig Fortrinlighed“. Sögurnar sem Rafn sleppti hafa fram að þessu aldrei komið út á dönsku, þótt sumar þeirra hafi verið þýddar á allt að tíu önnur tungumál.
Nýju dönsku þýðingarnar koma út í átta bindum hjá danska forlaginu Gyldendal, fyrstu fjögur bindin hafa þegar birst og afgangurinn er væntanlegur á næstu tveimur árum. Annette Lassen ritstýrir verkinu, og danski listamaðurinn Peter Brandes myndskreytir og hannar útlit bókanna, en þýðendur eru auk ritstjóra Peter Springborg, Erik Skyum-Nielsen, Rolf Stavnem og Kim Lembek. Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir og Gottskálk Jensson veita fræðilega ráðgjöf en danski rithöfundurinn Merete Pryds Helle er bókmenntalegur málfarsráðunautur.
Í stuttum hádegiserindum mun Annette Lassen fyrst segja frá þessari nýju heildarþýðingu og hugmyndunum að baki, Kim Lembek mun ræða vandann að þýða fornaldarsögur í samanburði við þýðingar Íslendingasagna; þá fjallar Rolf Stavnem um þýðingar sínar á eddukvæðum í fornaldarsögum, og loks mun Peter Springborg skemmta áheyrendum með upplestri úr þýðingu sinni á Örvar-Odds sögu.
Erindin verða flutt bæði á dönsku og íslensku.
Snorri and the Sagas
Medieval Icelandic authors and their methods
Thursday, October 26, 2017, at 16.30
The use of Icelandic sources to bolster the historical pedigree of the Scandinavian states from the seventeenth century onwards has been relatively well studied. In the case of Sweden, the seventeenth century saw the rise of the Swedish political star at the expense of the Danes, and the Icelandic sources provided the Swedes with a welcome opportunity to match the present state of affairs with a respectable historical background. These sources were used to show how old and excellent the Swedish nation was, and in our present era of Western self-criticism, such practices have attracted much attention in Scandinavia, Germany and elsewhere. Less interest has been accorded to the fact that the Icelandic sources were so readily useful for later nationalistic purposes, and why this might have been the case. This must be explained through recourse to the texts themselves, and this book focuses on the methods and interests of the medieval Icelandic authors in presenting their own cultural history and that of the Scandinavian realms.
There can be little doubt that medieval Icelanders took their role as transmitters of Nordic history seriously, but it is equally clear that their own past as pagan Vikings was often as fascinating and exotic to them as it was to many in later periods, and still is. Their way of transmitting the past was therefore an active and often a creative one. Awareness of this fact has, at least since the early twentieth century, led to a long debate regarding whether the Icelandic texts can be trusted as historical witnesses, and many studies have focused on to what extent the sagas are right or wrong. Others have opted for solving the problem by treating the sagas as literature without taking their diachronic value into account. This book aims for an intermediate solution, namely that of focusing on the methods of the authors in presenting their past, and how this conditioned the nature of the literary corpus. It argues that an analysis of their methods and interests, preferably on a case-by-case basis, may be a fruitful approach to Old Icelandic texts as witnesses to history.
Mikael Males is Associate Professor of Old Norse Philology at the University of Oslo, specializing in skaldic poetry and grammatical literature.
The talk will be delivered in English. All are welcome to attend.