Bragg, Lois. Oedipus borealis; the aberrant body

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  • Author: Bragg, Lois
  • Title: Oedipus borealis; the aberrant body in old Icelandic myth and saga
  • Place, Publisher: Cranbury, N.J.: Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp.
  • Year: 2004
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Bragg, Lois. Oedipus borealis; the aberrant body in old Icelandic myth and saga. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004.

  • Key words: characterization, motives, poetry (persónusköpun, sagnaminni, kveðskapur)


Contents

Annotation

Oedipus borealis argues that many well known figures in the Icelandic saga literature are based on mythic prototypes, and that both saga heroes and mythic figures are modelled on a pattern in which physical disability or deformity is linked with both sexual deviance and supernatural powers. In stark contrast to modern narrative, where aberrance is the sign of the villain or victim, the mythic mind sees aberrance as the sign of the hero. The saga hero Egil Skallagrímsson is discussed as a paradigm. Four other saga heroes who are skalds are considered in light of the pattern established by Egil. Their anomalies, too, are linked with their poetic talent.

Lýsing

Í verkinu eru færð rök fyrir því að margar þekktar persónur Íslendingasagna eigi sér goðsögulegar fyrirmyndir, og að bæði Íslendingasagnahetjurnar og goðmögnin séu byggð á mynstri þar sem líkamleg fötlun eða afmyndun sé bæði tengd afbrigðilegu kynferði og yfirnáttúrulegum öflum. Ólíkt nútímafrásögnum, þar sem frávik eru vörumerki þorpara eða fórnarlamba, er litið svo á í goðsögunum að frávikin séu tákn hetjuskapar. Egill Skallagrímsson er greindur í þessu ljósi og fjórar Íslendingasagnahetjur að auki eru teknar til umræðu í ljósi þess fordæmis sem Egill skapar, en í öllum tilvikum eru frávik í útliti og hegðun tengd skáldgáfunni.

See also

References

Chapter 01: svartur maður og ljótur: "… for ugliness nowhere in the extant literature suggests a wicked nature-irrascible, perhaps, but not vicious or depraved. The ugly brother, Grím, then, is to be seen spending his time in hard work with the farmhands (rather than socializing with other scions of the landed gentry). (…) The handiness with wood and iron is an interesting touch that will be greatly expanded later in the saga, and here recalls the archaic association of craftsmanship with the aberrant body that we have seen in Hephaestus, as well as the mastery of iron associated with berserkergangr." (p. 149).

Chapter 89: þykkleik haussins: "I hope it will be obvious that Egil's aberrance is of mythic, not medical, import. To that end, I insert a number of excursuses on relevant mythic type-characters, including the berserkr, the Dwarf, the Lapplander, and the revenant. The Egil we meet in Egil's Saga is premised on these models (… which) share the feature of monstrosity: outlandish, foreign, aberrant, unnatural appearance and behavior. That Egil is the quintessential Icelandic founder-hero and is ill-featured and outsized at one and the same time is the keystone of this character." (p. 138).

Links

  • Written by: Louis Bragg
  • Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason
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