Torfi H. Tulinius. An Attempt at Application: Interpreting Egils saga

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  • Author: Torfi H. Tulinius
  • Title: An Attempt at Application: Interpreting Egils saga
  • Published in: Matter of the North. The Rise of Literary Fiction in Thirteenth Century Iceland. Transl. Randi C. Eldevik
  • Place, Publisher: Odense: Odense University Press
  • Year: 2002
  • Pages: 234-89
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Torfi H. Tulinius. "An Attempt at Application: Interpreting Egils saga." The Matter of the North. The Rise of Literary Fiction in Thirteenth Century Iceland. Transl. Randi C. Eldevik. Odense: Odense University Press, 2002, pp. 234-89.

  • Key words: literary elements, structure, social reality, author (bókmenntaleg einkenni, bygging, samfélagsmynd, höfundur)


Contents

Annotation

Tulinius analyses Egils saga in three close readings, uncovering different layers of meaning and the complex structure of the text. In the first reading he discusses political issues addressed in the saga, such as dealings with royalty and land ownership. In the second he attempts to uncover underlying tensions in fraternal and filial relationships which lie at the heart of many of the saga‘s political conflicts, drawing paralels especially to Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks. He then connects these topics to the social changes taking place in Iceland at the beginning of the 13th century. In his third and final reading, Tulinius argues in favour of Snorri Sturluson’s authorship of Egils saga, proposing a hypothesis that the saga may reflect traces of Snorri’s life experience and identity.

Lýsing

Torfi setur fram þrjár túlkanir á Egils sögu sem afhjúpa ólík merkingarsvið textans og flókna byggingu verksins. Í fyrsta lagi ræðir hann pólitísk efni sem eru til umræðu í sögunni, svo sem samskipti persóna við norska konungsvaldið og deilur þeirra um eignarhald á landi. Í öðru lagi vekur hann athygli á að spenna í samskiptum feðga og bræðra í sögunni sé kveikja pólitískra átaka. Í því sambandi bendir hann á hliðstæður við aðrar fornsögur, ekki síst Hervarar sögu og Heiðreks. Hann tengir þessi efni við tilteknar samfélagslegar breytingar sem áttu sér stað á Íslandi í upphafi 13. aldar. Í þriðja lagi færir Torfi rök fyrir því að Snorri Sturluson hafi samið Eglu og setur fram þá kenningu að í sögunni megi greina þræði sem tengjast lífsreynslu og sjálfsmynd Snorra sjálfs.

See also

  • Original French version in Torfi Tulinius. La "Matière du Nord": Sagas légendaires et fiction dans la littérature islandaise en prose du XIIIe siècle. Paris: Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 1995.

References

  • Chapter 49: ekki haustlangt ráð: "No matter what Þórólfr might think, the reader is tempted to surmise that Egill, tormented by jealousy, wanted to prevent Þórólfr from rejoining his wife" (p. 258).
  • Chapter 55: annarri upp í hárrætur: "In many ways this scene is reminiscent of the confrontation between Heiðrekr and Gestumblindi in Hervarar saga, and also of a scene in Grímnismál that was probably the prototype. The presence of fire, the face-to-face encounter between the kind and a newcomer, and the fact that Egill closes one eye as if in imitation of Óðinn, who occupies the role that Egill occupies in the two other episodes, can be viewed as allusions to these scenes, which, as we have seen, are both bound up with the motif of fratricide" (p. 255).
  • Chapter 61: vegur mikill herra:: "On the surface this is a diplomatic manoeuvre aimed at flattering the king, but while Egill is actually quite able to live with Eiríkr’s anger, it is perhaps harder for him to bear the anger of his deceased father. [...] Thus the confrontation with the king would symbolically be a confrontation with Skalla-Grímr" (p. 262).

Links

  • Written by: Zuzana Stankovitsóva
  • Icelandic translation: Jón Karl Helgason
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