The Northern Medieval World aims to integrate research from historical, archaeological, literary and other traditions. Highly interdisciplinary in scope, the series embraces also gender, literary, manuscript, philosophical, religious and textual studies, as well as sources for educational use. We welcome cutting-edge approaches that seek to engage with all of medieval Scandinavia: not only Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden but also regions of the world that were part of the Norse universe in the Middle Ages—such as Rus, Normandy, the Danelaw and Greenland. Comparative studies are also welcome, as long as there is a significant Northern focus.
Influences of Pre-Christian Mythology and Christianity on Old Norse Poetry: A Narrative Study of Vafþrúðnismál
Andrew E. McGillivray
In this study, McGillivray explores the cultural environment in which the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál was composed and re-examines the relationship between form and content in the poem and the respective influences of pre-Christian beliefs and Christian religion on the text. The poem has a dual aspect, acting as a poetic framework and functioning as a sacred story. It serves both as a representation of early pagan beliefs or myths and also as a myth itself, relating the journey of the Norse god Óðinn to the hall of the ancient and wise giant Vafþrúðnir, where Óðinn craftily engages his adversary in a life-or-death contest in knowledge. The dialogue continues to captivate those enthusiastic about myth and history in the present, even as it did the medieval audiences who heard it.
Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir and Emily Lethbridge
Njáls saga is the best known and most highly regarded of all medieval Icelandic sagas and it occupies a special place in Icelandic cultural history. The manuscript tradition is exceptionally rich and extensive. The oldest extant manuscripts date to only a couple of decades after the saga's composition in the late thirteenth century and the saga was subsequently copied by hand continuously up until the twentieth century, even alongside the circulation of printed text editions in latter centuries. The manuscript corpus as a whole has great socio-historical value, showcasing the myriad ways in which generations of Icelanders interpreted the saga and took an active part in its transmission; the manuscripts are also valuable sources for evidence of linguistic change and other phenomena. The essays in this volume present new research and a range of interdisciplinary perspectives on the Njáls saga manuscripts. Many of the authors took part in the international research project "The Variance of Njáls saga," which was funded by the Icelandic Research Council from 2011-2013.