Bolton, W. F.. The Njála narrator and the picture plane

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  • Author: Bolton, W. F.
  • Title: The Njála Narrator and the Picture Plane.
  • Published in: Scandinavian Studies 44.2
  • Year: 1972
  • Pages: 186-209
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Bolton, W. F. "The Njála Narrator and the Picture Plane." Scandinavian Studies 44.2 (1972): 186-209.

  • Key words:



Literary techniques used by the saga’s author are explored through Bolton‘s analogy of the picture plane—a painter’s ability to manipulate the perspective of his art through technique that simultaneously enables him to maintain the credibility of the work. She approaches two scenes in Njála—the attack on Gunnar at Hlíðarendi and the attack on Njáll and his household at Bergþórshvoll as parallel scenes that feature clear intent to design and pattern. Exploring literary techniques involving both content and form, involving content only, and involving form only. Bolton‘s analysis centers on historical distance and actual distance through figures of speech. Distinguishing between true knowledge and false inference with an emphasis on the audience of the saga and the audience in the saga, and the distinction between prose and verse through speakers on opposing sides and their grammatical categories. The 13th century narrator attempts to present a historical explanation of where the narrator‘s contemporary audience currently is—Icelanders who recently abdicated their independence to the Norwegian crown—and why they got there. Through literary techniques, the narrator validates his abhorrence to the political system of feudal violence and delivers its consequences: loss of independence.


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See also




  • Written by: Bobby Erickson
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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