Berman, Melissa. Fiction in Egils saga

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  • Author: Berman, Melissa
  • Title: Fiction in Egils saga. Ph. D. Diss.
  • Place, Publisher: Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms
  • Year: 1983
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Berman, Melissa. Fiction in Egils saga. Ph. D. Thesis, Stanford University. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1983.

  • Key words:



Berman argues, “Egil’s saga is in design essentially a fictional work, conceived and plotted with fictional models in mind, and intended to convey ideas and impressions about people, and personality, not about the historical record or the development of events” (2). Berman believes that a scholastic focus on oral tradition and the influence of folklore has completely missed the true nature of Egil’s saga; she argues, “To replace these I offer two entirely different kinds of works as the main influences on Egil’s saga: the political saga, which shares Egil’s saga’s method of examining the past, and the legendary saga, which narrates improbable, glamorous events” (7). In this, Berman hopes to prove that Egil’s saga’s ‘author’ has consciously and purposefully blended four genre styles “to create a new literary form, a new kind of fiction which attempts to uncover the meaning of the past” (247). Berman’s evidence relies on textual dating and comparison, word-choice, and imagery. These arguments are based on various aspects of the saga. She challenges the dating of Heimskringla, arguing that it predates Egil’s saga, and that the author manipulates certain events to fit the fiction of Egil’s saga (42). She later points out the sensitive narrative balance of Kveld-Úlfr and Skalla-Grímr between their descriptions as human and hamrammir, and the negative implications of relating monsters to the heroic protagonist (150). Berman also emphasizes that the legendary characteristics found in Egil’s description are commonly shared with trolls and hamrammr, connect him to the magical Atli, and relate him to Odin (199, 203, 212, 224). Berman’s argument is broken down into four core chapters. Each chapter takes Egil’s saga’s style, and compares it to another saga type, these include the kings’ sagas, political sagas, and legendary sagas. In her discussion of legendary sagas, she discusses, both, Egill’s ancestry, and Egill.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 11: hann var reiður: "Even before Hildiríðr’s sons begin their campaign against Þórólfr, Haraldr has been angered by Þórólfr’s display of power and wealth at a feast." (p. 101)

Chapter 27: kista Kveld-Úlfs: "Kveld-Úlfr seems to have magical powers including second sight: he predicts his son’s fate (chapter 19) and his corpse guides the ship to a food landing in Iceland (chapter 27)." (p. 145)


  • Written by: Benjamin S. C. Sibley
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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