Balchin, Nigel. Burnt-Njal - the irredeemable crime

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  • Author: Balchin, Nigel
  • Title: Burnt-Njal - the irredeemable crime
  • Published in: Fatal fascination: a choice of crime
  • Editors: Nigel Balchin et al.
  • Place, Publisher: London: Hutchinson
  • Year: 1964
  • Pages: 7-57
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Balchin, Nigel. "Burnt-Njal - the irredeemable crime." Fatal fascination : a choice of crime, pp. 7-57. Eds. Nigel Balchin et al. London: Hutchinson, 1964.

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Balchin approaches the tragedy of Burnt Njal not as a moral failing of men, but rather as a critique of a society in which a chain of events have the potential to culminate in an irredeemable crime, such as burning a family alive within their house. Balchin begins by giving a bit of background information about how law functioned in medieval Iceland so that he can later argue that most of the saga characters were men (and women) of high character—not psychopaths—that were failed by the legal and social structures of their time. He then draws parallels between the chain of events that led up to the saga burning and the European political climate of his own time (1960‘s), arguing for contemporary readers to view the saga as a cautionary tale of political cause and effect.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 128: Eru nú tveir kostir til og er hvorgi góður. : “Flosi was now faced with a terrible dilemma. [...] He was probably quite sincere in his dislike of the idea of setting fire to the house, but he must have realized from the beginning, as Skarphedinn clearly did, that it might come to that in the end; and Flosi was not the man to leave a job unfinished.” (p. 44)


  • Written by: Kristen F. Lindbloom
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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