Hamer, Andrew. "It seemed to me that the sweetest light of my eyes had been extinguished"
- Author: Hamer, Andrew
- Title: "It seemed to me that the sweetest light of my eyes had been extinguished"
- 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: 93-101
- E-text: Viking Society Web Publications
- Reference: Hamer, Andrew. "It seemed to me that the sweetest light of my eyes had been extinguished." Introductory Essays on Egils saga and Njáls saga, pp. 93-101. Eds. John Hines, Desmond Slay. London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1992.
- Key words:
Previous critical approaches to sagas and saga writing have concluded that figurative language is foreign to such texts and their authors. Hamer suggests that this conclusion is faulty; as a proving ground, he looks to Njáls saga with two questions in mind: 1. Would Icelandic saga authors comprehend figurative writing? 2. Do these same authors use such language in their texts? The answer to the first question may be found by examining the article’s title, an utterance from Njáls saga occasioned by the slaying of Höskuldr. As such language is used in the Vulgate and in medieval hagiography, the saga author was likely familiar with such textual formulations. To answer the second question, Hamer examines the cases of two characters, Hrútr and Ámundi. As the fortunes of these two are fueled by metaphors of vision/light and evil/darkness, Hamer concludes that the author was both aware of metaphor and adept at using it.
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Chapter 123: heim til búðar: "Following Höskuldr’s death, metaphorically the extinguishing of the light of Njáll’s eyes, the process of law is once again incapacitated, and the resulting courthearing reaches deadlock." (p. 95)
Chapter 106: var hann alla ævi blindur síðan: It is obvious why critics have been uneasy at this scene [referring to the case of Ámundi the Blind]: since the Christian’s God is the God of Love, Whose commandment it is not to kill, it would appear that at best the Christian author of Njála had a very inadequate understanding of his God; at worst the scene can be read as downright blasphemous. Seen against the background of the metaphor of darkness and vision, however, the message of the episode is clear and unambiguous." (p. 100)
- Written by: Benjamin Holt
- Icelandic/English translation: