Islandica 55: The Partisan Muse in the Early Icelandic Sagas (1200-1250), by Theodore M. Andersson

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Islandica 55, x, 227 p. ISBN 978-0-935995-14-5. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2012

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The Partisan Muse in the Early Icelandic Sagas (1200–1250) is a study of the genesis of Old Icelandic prose literature from its roots in oral tradition to the compilation of key early sagas at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Theodore M. Andersson devotes special attention to the Icelandic sagas (kings' sagas or konungasögur) that narrate the careers of Norwegian kings, Óláfr Tryggvason and Óláfr Haraldsson prominent among them.

The author considers the "self-consciously Icelandic filter" that balances Icelanders’ perception of Norwegian kings and Icelandic protagonists. He also treats the volatile balance of power between the monarch and the jarls of Norway that permeates the narrative of a now-lost *Hlaðajarla saga, whose traces are evident in the major compilations Morkinskinna and Fagrskinna.

Five of the book's chapters are revisions of previously published papers. The final two chapters carry the discussion of textual interrelationships in the kings' sagas to somewhat later Icelandic native sagas (Íslendingasögur) originating in the north and the west of the country.


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