Cook, Robert. Journeys to Norway (and other foreign parts) in Njáls saga

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  • Author: Cook, Robert
  • Title: Journeys to Norway (and other foreign parts) in Njáls saga
  • Published in: Sagas and the Norwegian Experience: Preprints of the 10th International Saga Conference, Trondheim, 3. - 9. august 1997
  • Editors: Hagland, J. R.
  • Place, Publisher: Trondheim, NTNU
  • Year: 1997
  • Pages: 130-138
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Cook, Robert. "Journeys to Norway (and other foreign parts) in Njáls saga." Sagas and the Norwegian Experience: Preprints of the 10th International Saga Conference, Trondheim, 3. - 9. august 1997, pp. 130-138. Ed. J. R. Hagland. Trondheim: NTNU, 1997.

  • Key words:



The author discusses different types of voyages that various characters in Njal's saga take, and how travel motifs concerning journeys abroad were crafted to fit the story and serve the narrative. There are a number of reasons to undertake journeys abroad which are discussed. The voyages include exploits of heroism, cowardice, eroticism, manipulation, and other themes that effect the arc of the story. There are similar voyages present in other sagas, such as Ólafr Höskuldsson's journeys to Norway and Ireland in Laxdæla saga, and the author argues a historical precedent to the inclusion of these journeys by explaining that Icelanders often traveled to work in Scandinavian courts as Skalds, among other ventures. Cook further explores various characters‘ interactions with Norwegian royalty and in part demonstrates how Icelanders are received and treated at Norwegian courts. Encounters as a whole end up mixed with positive and negative outcomes depending on the character undertaking the journey.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 2: Mikið er það í móti erfðinni minni en nú skalt þú fara ef þú vilt : " Hrut, not blinded by greed, is in an honest dilemma, torn by his agreement to marry Unn in half a month, and the honor of his family. Mord, on the other hand has one interest, and it comes right to the point with a question Hrut would not have asked: “Hversu mikit fé er þetta?”. On hearing the amount is high, he agrees to postpone the wedding for purely financial reasons. Mord's greed will play a major role in the sad story of his daughter's marriage to Hrut. More generally, it is fitting that Hrut's journey abroad be motivated by the quarrel over a sum of money, for this is exactly what lies ahead with respect to Unn's dowry." (p. 131)

Chapter 159: sté á skip og lét í haf. : " There is one final journey to be considered, one which forms a kind of coda to the journeys abroad in the saga, and to the saga itself. The fetching of wood for a hall or church in Iceland is a stereotyped motif, and so of course is the winter's stay in Norway and even the late start home. But to do all this as an old man, and to board an unsafe ship with the thought that it will conduct him to his appointed death, is far from the journey pattern and shows, for one final moment, how dexterously the Njala author has adapted the motifs of the journey abroad to the artistic and thematic needs of the saga." (p. 137)


  • Written by: Dain Swenson
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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