Guðrún Nordal. ‘The Dialogue Between Audience and Text

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  • Author: Guðrún Nordal
  • Title: The Dialogue between Audience and Text: The Variants in Verse Citations in Njáls saga 's Manuscripts.
  • Published in: Oral art forms and their passage into writing
  • Editors: Else Mundal, Jonas Wellendorf
  • Place, Publisher: Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum
  • Year: 2008
  • Pages: 185-202
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Guðrún Nordal. "The Dialogue between Audience and Text: The Variants in Verse Citations in Njáls saga 's Manuscripts." Oral art forms and their passage into writing, pp. 185-202. Eds. Else Mundal and Jonas Wellendorf. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 2008.

  • Key words:



Some stanzas in the Njáls saga could have been passed on in the form of oral poetry before being integrated in early saga manuscripts, whereas others were presumably composed at the same time as the Njála manuscripts and were assimilated into the prose. As a further possiblity, skaldic verses could have been composed after Njáls saga as a direct reaction of the audience to the content and to the end of accentuating or mitigating topics of the saga. Evidence of adaptations to the existing text made by its audience can be found in additional stanzas in the Reykjabók and Kálfalækjarbók manuscripts. Stanzas 1-3 allow the audience to express not only Unnr's emotion, but also her sexual longing, all the while emphasizing recurring matters such as social status, behavior, scandals and defamation. The additional stanzas about Hallgerðr (17, 24, 27) were most likely incorporated as one such response on behalf of the audience. Thus, they reflect the content of the preceding prose. Furthermore, Hallgerðr is portrayed in a negative manner to highlight her social relegation after the death of Gunnarr, her husband.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 7: Hún kvað vísu: "The thrust of public opinion is a recurrent topic in Njáls saga, and the manuscripts contain these three powerful stanzas in the opening chapters throw into relief two crucial issues in the saga, ambiguous sexual relationships and slander in small communities." (p. 192)


  • Written by: Kathrin Lisa van der Linde
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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