Dronke, Ursula. The Role of Sexual Themes in Njáls Saga

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  • Author: Dronke, Ursula
  • Title: The Role of Sexual Themes in Njáls Saga
  • Place, Publisher: London: Viking Society for Northern Research
  • Year: 1981
  • E-text: vsnrweb
  • Reference: Dronke, Ursula. The Role of Sexual Themes in Njáls Saga. London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1981.

  • Key words:



In this article, Dronke describes how the author of Njáls saga used an abundance of detailed sexual/romantic themes to create a profound image of family saga society unlike those of his contemporaries. She supports this throughout the article by detailing the various instances of intimacy developed by the author, while also analyzing their deeper societal implications. Notable themes illustrated within the text include the popular motif of secret lovers, the complex characterizations of a “real man,” the negatives of sexual jealousy and the traditional marital construct. The article concludes with the claim that the author’s use of various literary genres – “romance, fabliau, folktale” – produced an intricate and dramatic work differing from the preceding family sagas, however still within the boundaries of traditional narrative prose.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 20: honum vóx eigi skegg: "If we turn our gaze from this opening drama of Hrútr, we see another figure in whom virility is in question: at the centre of the saga is the effeminate visage of Njáll himself. No beard ever grew on him- honum óx eigi skegg. Yet he had seven children." (p.11)

Chapter 6: Átt þú konu nokkura út þar?: “The author of Njál’s Saga has converted this proud openness into secrecy, but he has kept the tenderness. When Hrútr thinks of returning to Iceland-like all good Icelanders, he grows melancholy in the alien court–Gunnhildr, apparently for the first time, asks about his private life there. ’Have you some woman out there–konu nökkura?” (p. 8)


  • Written by: Katherine Vasquez
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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