Guðrún Nordal. Sturlunga saga and the context of saga-writing

From WikiSaga
Jump to: navigation, search
  • Author: Guðrún Nordal
  • Title: Sturlunga saga and the context of saga-writing
  • Published in: Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga
  • Editors:John Hines, Desmond Slay
  • Place, Publisher: London: Viking Society for Northern Research
  • Year: 1992
  • Pages: 1-14
  • E-text: Viking Society Web Publications
  • Reference: Guðrún Nordal. "Sturlunga saga and the context of saga-writing." Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga, pp. 1-14. Eds. John Hines, Desmond Slay. London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1992.

  • Key words:



The article provides a reading of the writing strategies displayed in Sturlunga saga, in order to underline the major similarities with the traditional narrative technique of the family sagas. In the author’s view, contemporary sagas show a significant degree of similarity with the sagas of Icelanders, regarding several narrative devices (interpolation of verses, anticipations through dreams and supernatural happenings, predictions, visions, commenting etc.) Guðrún Nordal focuses mainly on Íslendinga saga by Sturla Þórðarson, as it is one of the few sagas whose author and his background are well known. This allows Guðrún Nordal to show the uniformity in the narrative techniques employed in contemporary sagas as well as in family sagas. In Guðrún Nordal’s view, both sub-genres show the concern of the contemporaries for the re-telling and re-creation of the past. The given example is the episode of the burning at Flugumýri (ch. 172-4; 1253) which has a striking parallelism in the burning of Njáll in Njáls saga.


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 127: vera þar Skarphéðinn er: "By comparing some details of the burning at Flugumýrr in Íslendinga saga and the burning of Njáll in Njáls saga we can highlight some of the characteristics of the contemporary saga. Each burning forms the second climax in each saga. The killing of Sturla Sightvasson at Örlygsstaðir is the first climax in Íslendinga saga; the killing of Gunnar Hámundarson the first in Njáls saga." (p. 7)

Chapter 132: eg hefi engis dauðs manns líkama séð jafnbjartan: "The narrative is ordered and well balanced despite the horror of the killing. The narrator only describes those characters that are of relevance to the saga … . The author of the saga stands at a distance from which he can judge the action. The bodies of Njáll and Bergþóra are found the following day … . With this episode in mind, we shall look at the story of the year 1253 (Chs. 172-74) … when the remains of the bodies of his wife Gróa and their son Ísleifr are carried out of the burning farm, Gizurr is clearly shaken … . The horror of the episode is thus enhanced by minute details; yet at the same time the abundance of information about the people involved and their deaths makes the burning appear to the reader as a confused and chaotic scene. We remain outsiders as the tragedy unfolds in front of us." (p. 8-9)


  • Written by: Eleonora Pancetti
  • Icelandic/English translation:
Personal tools