Islandica 56: Icelandic Baroque: Poetic Art and Erudition in the Works of Hallgrímur Pétursson, by Margrét Eggertsdóttir

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Translated by Andrew Wawn

Islandica 56, xii, 558 p. ISBN 978-0-935995-16-9. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2014

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Icelandic Baroque seeks to approach the writings of Hallgrimur Petursson (1614–1674), Iceland's leading devotional poet, from a new direction. Hallgrimur is best known for his Passiusalmar, fifty hymns that contemplate the crucifixion and death of Christ, using a variety of meters and melodies; they have been sung in Iceland over Lent for many generations. This book offers a new evaluation of his poetry.

First, seventeenth-century Icelandic literature in general, and Hallgrimur's works in particular, are set in the wider context of contemporary European literature, particularly from Scandinavia and Germany. Second, the influence of the poet's social milieu, both domestic and overseas, is explored. Third, the author, Margrét Eggertsdóttir, explores whether and, if so, how aesthetic and literary theories of the baroque can enrich our understanding of seventeenth-century Icelandic literature. Her principal aim is to contribute to a reevaluation of Icelandic seventeenth-century literary history by applying new interpretative perspectives to works by leading poets of the period, most notably the iconic figure of Hallgrimur Petursson.

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