Tirosh, Yoav. Víga-Njáll: A New Approach Toward Njáls saga

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  • Author: Tirosh, Yoav
  • Title: Víga-Njáll: A New Approach Toward Njáls saga
  • Published in: Scandinavian Studies 86/2
  • Year: 2014
  • Pages: 208–26
  • E-text: Muse
  • Reference: "Víga-Njáll: A New Approach Toward Njáls saga," Scandinavian Studies 86/2 (2014), 208–26.

  • Key words: Characterisation, literary elements, psychology (persónusköpun, bókmenntaleg einkenni, sálfræði)


Contents

Annotation

The article starts with a literary analysis of the silk garment scene as intentional sabotage, explaining this as an act of vengeance for the death of Hoskuld Thrainsson, Njal's beloved foster-son. It then moves on to discuss Njal’s behavior during the burning, and the inner-family dynamics of the Bergthorshvoll family. Here it is argued that Njal takes the position of the omnipotent father (which Ármann Jakobsson has shown is prevalent in the sagas), and when his sons try and rebel against him by killing Hoskuld, he has no choice but to destroy the family unit. Finally, the article reconciles this judgment of Njal’s actions with his positive portrayal throughout the saga, by arguing that the author rather sides with this act of vengeance.

Lýsing

Greinin byrjar á því að greina senuna með silkislæðurnar á bókmenntafræðilegan hátt sem viljandi skemmdaverk og útskýrir hana í ljósi hefndar fyrir dauða Höskuldar Hvítanessgoða, fóstursonar Njáls. Á eftir fylgir umfjöllun um hegðun Njáls í brennunni og hreyfiöfl innan fjölskyldunnar á Bergþórshvoli. Höfundurinn heldur því fram að Njáll taki sér hlutverk hins sterka föður (sem Ármann Jakobsson hefur sýnt fram á að er algengt í sögunum), og þegar synir hans gera uppreisn gegn valdi hans með því að vega Höskuld, hefur Njáll hefur engan kost annan en að sundra einingu fjölskyldunnar. Að lokum tengir greinin þessa skoðun á hegðun Njáls við jákvæða lýsingu hans í sögunni með því að halda því fram að höfundurinn standi með þessari hefndargjörð.


See also

References

  • Chapter 75: að mínu skapi: "Even if we have established that there is doubt regarding the positive portrayal of Njáll in the saga, this is not the case with Gunnar, a much more classic Íslendingasögur hero, although also not devoid of his fair share of complexities. We are meant to identify with this character, and his call to protect one son and forsake the other is not a decision we are meant to criticize. And if he prefers one child over the other, why can’t Njáll?” (p. 223).
  • Chapter 120: Hefir mig aldrei það hent: "The use of the verb henda (happen) gives a certain feeling of passivity and chance. Something inside Skarphéðinn is perhaps saying that this might just as easily have happened if the circumstances had been different, and perhaps even expressing a secret wish that this would have happened. However, in the most straightforward sense, he is priding himself for not contending with his father, and this will ultimately be his downfall. Njáll’s power over his sons and Skarphéðinn’s failure to resist and rebel against his omnipotent father causes the death of almost the entire family” (p. 224).
  • Chapter 123: Vil eg þess nú biðja yður: "Njáll’s words to his sons before the settlement scene can be understood in a different light: Skarphéðinn’s initial response where he grins and strokes his forehead followed by his subsequent defamation of Flosi are not unanticipated by Njáll, but perhaps intended” (p. 213).

Links

  • Written by: Zuzana Stankovitsová
  • Icelandic translation: Zuzana Stankovitsová
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