Blaney, Benjamin. The Berserk Suitor

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  • Author: Blaney, Benjamin
  • Title: The Berserk Suitor: The Literary Application of a Stereotyped Theme
  • Published in: Scandinavian Studies 54/4
  • Year: 1982
  • Pages: 279-94
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Blaney, Benjamin. "The Berserk Suitor: The Literary Application of a Stereotyped Theme." Scandinavian Studies 54/4 (1982): 279-94.

  • Key words: literary motifs (frásagnamynstur)


Contents

Annotation

The figure of the unwelcome beserk suitor is a stock character both in legendary sagas and romances and in family sagas, but his treatment and role is different in these two types of sagas. His structural purpose in legendary sagas is often simply to provide a wife for the hero, while duels with these suitors in family sagas serve a range of literary purposes. Examples are given from Svarfdæla saga, Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar, Gísla saga, Grettis saga and Egils saga. Egil’s duels with Ljot and Atli are contrasted as demonstrating his heroic and his dark side, respectively: he fights and defeats the unwelcome beserk but has something of the beserk in him himself, a trait inherited from his father and grandfather. His back-to-back duels demonstrate the duality of his character; his second duel is a deliberate deviation from the traditional model that gains its effectiveness through its break with the stereotyped pattern. (KH)

Lýsing

Persóna hins óvelkomna vonbiðils sem jafnframt er berserkur kemur víða fyrir í fornaldarsögum, riddarasögum og Íslendingasögum. Hins vegar leikur hún ólíkt hlutverk í þessum sagnagerðum. Í fornaldarsögum og riddarasögum þjónar berserkurinn oft því eina hlutverki að leiða fram á sjónarsviðið brúði fyrir hetjuna. Í Íslendingasögum er hlutverk hans fjölbreyttara. Blaney tekur dæmi úr Svarfdæla sögu, Þorsteins sögu Víkingssonar, Gísla sögu, Grettis sögu and Egils sögu. Einvígi Egils við Ljót varpar ljósi á hetjueinkenni Egils en einvígi hans við Atla afhjúpa dekkri hliðar hetjunnar. Egill ber sigur af hólmi í baráttu við berserkinn en í ljós kemur að sjálfur er hann einhvers konar berserkur, líkt og faðir hans og afi. Þessi tvö hliðstæðu einvígi sýna vel ólíkar hliðar persónunnar; síðara einvígið er í andstöðu við frásagnarhefðina og verður enn áhrifaríkara fyrir vikið.

See also

References

Chapter 67: við göngum á hólm: „While the first duel (ch. [66]) shows Egil’s noble qualities (courage, loyalty and generosity towards his friends, and fighting ability), the second duel reveals the dark side of his nature: his avarice and stubbornness in pushing a dubious claim to properties in a country where he cannot live, and his own werewolfish, beserk nature“ (p. 289).


Links

  • Written by: Katelin Parsons
  • Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason
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