Allen, Richard F.. Introduction

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  • Author: Allen, Richard F.
  • Title: Introduction
  • Published in: Fire and Iron: Critical Approaches to Njáls saga
  • Place, Publisher: Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Year: 1971
  • Pages: xi-xvi
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Allen, Richard F.. "Introduction." Fire and Iron: Critical Approaches to Njáls saga. pp. xi-xvi. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971.

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In Richard Allen’s introduction to his book Fire and Iron, he expresses a desire to fill the current (at the time) void of literary analysis of Icelandic sagas. His stated contribution to this goal is five chapters that make up a series of different critical approaches to Njáls saga: approaches that he outlines individually in this introduction. He explains that he begins by examining how the structures of sagas themselves seem to imitate an oral tradition. His next step is analyzing how the style of sagas accomplishes that imitation; here, he utilizes a comparison between the Icelandic saga and other contemporaneous and/or influential European epic styles. He then moves on to Njáls saga specifically, using the points made in the previous chapters to analyze the major themes present at the beginning of the saga. The two final chapters of his book widen their scope to the whole of Njals saga. They deal, respectively, with the rhetorical devices its author used to craft a reliable narrator, and how the saga reflects the lived experiences and cultural values of Icelanders. After thus outlining the structure of his book, Allen is careful to provide a caveat that his analysis required navigation and acknowledgement of many translation differences, such as in matters of verbs, place names, and tenses. Accordingly, he provides the different sources and editions of Njals saga he has used to mitigate any resulting misinterpretations. Finally, he ends the introduction with a restating of his ultimate purpose: to bring saga scholarship to the forefront of Western academia


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See also




  • Written by: Madelyn DeVore
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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