Allen, Richard F.. Elements in Njáls saga

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  • Author: Allen, Richard F.
  • Title: Elements in Njáls saga: Description, Theory, Application
  • Published in: Fire and Iron: Critical Approaches to Njáls saga
  • Place, Publisher: Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Year: 1971
  • Pages: 57-94
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Allen, Richard F.. "Elements in Njáls saga: Description, Theory, Application." Fire and Iron: Critical Approaches to Njáls saga. pp. 57-94. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971.

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Allen argues that events in Njáls saga follow stereotyped patterns, and that the saga is made up of stock motifs and scenes. Characters behave in a scripted, formulaic fashion in a variety of scenes including battle, involvement in the legal process, when greeting and welcoming, bride-bartering, and feasting, functioning at literary levels ranging from figurative statements to episodes to archetypal plot themes. The interplay between characters in these patterns is then examined as a function of power in the saga, and the shaping of plot development by the tying together of motifs, scenes, and episodes into the saga’s plot is argued to serve as a means of creating overarching archetypal themes.


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  • Written by: Eric Blue
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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