Andersson, Theodore M..Demythologizing the Tradition

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  • Author: Andersson, Theodore M.
  • Title: "Demythologizing the Tradition: Njáls Saga"
  • Published in: The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180-1280)
  • Place, Publisher: Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press
  • Year: 2006
  • Pages: 182-203
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Andersson, Theodore M..The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180-1280). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006.

  • Key words:



Njáls saga has traditionally been referred to as the culmination of the art of saga writing, containing most motives and themes represented by the corpus of Íslendingasögur. Theodore M. Andersson challenges this widespread view by indicating in what ways Njáls saga distorts the common narratives and imagery. The characters of Njála, their actions and relationships, although seemingly bearing resemblance to those found in other sagas, appear to be subversions and even parodies of the traditional patterns. Instead of following the tradition, the saga seems to distance itself from it: the main focus of the saga is not on honourable behaviour and heroism but on vulnerability, evil, bad luck, and failure.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 47: Síðan keypti Gunnarr þrælinn : “It is one Otkel Skarfsson who refuses to sell Gunnar hay, which he needs to help his neighbours in a time of famine, but he does sell him a slave of very questionable character named Melkólf. It is unclear why Gunnar would purchase a slave with nothing to recommend him when he is apparently in no need of one, but it is one of Gunnar’s characteristics that he makes repeated mistakes.” (p. 193)


  • Written by: Auksė Beatričė Katarskytė
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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