Август 5th, 2011

Книга Вьестейна Оуласона «Диалоги с викингским веком», 1998

Книга Вьестейна Оуласона «Диалоги с викингским веком», 1998
(Vésteinn Ólason “Dialogues with the Viking Age”, tr. by A. Wawn, R-vík, 1998)

С. 71: «This creates disputes which in two of the sagas, Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu and Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa, lead to the death of the hero; in the other two works, Hallfreðar saga and Kormáks saga, the poets seem content to love the woman from afar. Gunnlaugur, Hallfreðr and Kormákr can all be blamed for not marrying the women to whom they are betrothed. They fail to follow society’s rules or the agreements into which they themselves had freely entered.

These poets’ sagas are distinctive in that the poets themselves are capricious loners, often only half-heartedly in touch with their families and sometimes in open disagreement. Þormóðr Kolbrúnarskáld, the royal poet in Fóstbræðra saga, resembles the hero of Hallfreðar saga in being more loyal to kings and heroes than to the woman ans woos…»

С. 82: «

С. 128: «Kormákr Ögmundarson is also deeply troubled in spirit, convinced that his passionate love for Steingerðr carries with it the promise of ill fortune and death. Yet even his emotional turmoil is not as striking as that of Egill Skalla-Grímsson as revealed in his poetry, even if we discount the “Sonatorrek” and “Arinbjarnarkviða” poems which seem not to have been a part of the saga in its earliest incarnation… and the same sense of powerful temperament which they reveal can also be found in Egill’s individual verses in the saga, even though in these his struggle against depression is by no means as passionate as that revealed in “Sonatorrek”.»

С. 146-147: «The contrast in gender roles is most apparent in conventional ideas about sexual acts between a man and a woman, and this seems to have acted as some kind of model for defining the sexes, in that the passive role in sexual intercourse is associated with a lack of positive masculine attributes. The semantic fields of the Icelandic words argr/ragr, ergi/regi (homosexual/cowardly, homosexuality/cowardice) reveal the conceptual links berween dissimilar phenomena, and both pairs of words denote male cowardice and homosexuality, especially the passive role in homosexual relations. They can also denote female promiscuity, especially amongst witches and enchantresses who were thought to engage in various kinds of sexual excess. This use of words shows that their meaning is rooted in sexuality and in the idea of the man as the active partner in sexual intercourse.»

C. 149-150: «In Kormáks saga the first meeting between Kormákr the skald and Steingerðr is unique in the Íslendingasögur. She cannot take her eyes off him and he immediately begins to compose verses about her beauty and the dangerous love which she arouses in him… Soon afterwards Steingerðr suggests that Kormákr should seek her father’s permission to marry her. However, when it comes to the crunch, Kormákr does not wish to marry her – a reluctance blamed on sorcery. Against her will Steingerðr is now married to another man… They subsequently live sad and strange lives: Kormákr can never stop thinking about Steingerðr, and though she remains too proud to accept him, it is all too clear that she is unhappy in her marriage.»

С. 170: «There is more to be said about his thoughts and feelings than stands in the prose. Gísli is in fact depressed because of the blood-stained life which he has led, and because of the fate which awaits him. In his dreams and his poetry he steps out of the world of actions, as it were, and into the area occupied by supernatural forces and by fate.»

С. 171: «Supernatural forces impact again on the saga when the sorcerer Þorgrímr Nose casts a spell on Þorgrímr’s killer so that nothing would go well for him. It can thus be said that all events conspire against Gísli – powerful opponents, fate and sorcery. The saga turns on how individuals confront the burden of fate, living in accordance with their conscience and fighting for their lives until the bitter end, no matter how powerful the forces which they have to confront, and no matter how awful their fate must be… »

С. 188: «It is Grettir’s arrogance which leads him to despise both physical work and people whom he regards as of lesser worth. He feels that there is no need ever to offer explanations for his actions or to seek agreement with other men, but he reacts violently to all hostility… His arrogance is also apparent in that, from his earliest years, he believes that no force, whether natural or supernatural, can rival his own strength. This belief leads him to challenge the ghost Glámr, and though he overcomes his adversary in the main fight, the aftermath serves only to add to his misfortunes and undermines his inner strength. Just like Gísli he becomes afraid of the dark, in the sense of fearing forces which he does not understand and against which he cannot use his own physical strength.»

С. 189-190: «In Grettir saga several ideas seem to run together: about good and bad fortune, about fate, and about character flaws which trigger misfortune. In this respect the saga has moved some way towards a psychological understanding of human behavior. Grettir’s deeds serve to outlaw him from society; they make him a man who, in more than one sense, lives on the edge.

In the popular heroic tales of many lands, we read of heroes who live according to their own morality, in locations on or near the outermost boundaries of societies which have no room for heroes…

We encounter old wonder-tale stories about heroes fighting against supernatural monsters which threaten society, as when Grettir confronts Glámr, or the trolls in Bárðardalr; we recognise folkloristic motifs in the saga’s account of the hero’s dealings with trolls and half-trolls in the mountains; and, on the other hand, there is material reminiscent of amusing medieval exempla with their clear Christian message. This plurality of discourses must serve to intensify the interest of readers in Grettir and his deeds, and promt them to ask – who is this man? The stories about Grettir highlight more general truths about man and his society; about man’s place in the natural order; and about his relationship to those forces which lie beyond everyday reality; and, not least, about man as one of God’s most remarkable creations, who nevertheless misuses his Maker’s gifts.»

С. 196-197: «“Sonatorrek”… The poem adds a spiritual dimension to Egill’s life and associates him with Óðinn, the god of poets and vikings. Although it is unlikely that this poem was part of the saga’s original text, and accordingly the author may not have intended this additional Odinic dimension, it was in all likelihood widely known. There is greater textual justification for detecting the influence of more primitive and perhaps longer-lasting faiths than belief in the Norse gods. Kveld-Úlfr and his descendants seem to stand in some kind of secret relationship with the forces of nature, and derive their supernatural strength from this source, and this invites us to conclude from the saga that these characters have faith in themselves and perhaps their forefathers, as when Skalla-Grímr allows the dead Kveld-Úlfr (and not the pagan gods) to influence the location of the family homestead.

The semi-supernatural element in Egill’s make-up is reflected in his runic knowledge and in the violent madness which can seize him while he is fighting. It shows itself most clearly at Aðalsteinn’s feast and it marks his dealings with Queen Gunnhildr. It would thus be too much of a simplification to view Egill solely as the representative of a particular social class. He certainly fulfils that role, but he also represents ancient forces from beyond the everyday world. Of course, in the eyes of a medieval Christian, such forces must be evil in themselves and in origin. Yet in his descriptions of Kveld-Úlfr, Skalla-Grímr and Egill, the author of Egils saga dares to show how their semi-animal nature can provide strength in the struggle for survival, even though such strength can also contain destructive forces – as when Skalla-Grámr tries to kill his own son. All this harmonises very well with the high prestige accorded to ancient lore by thirteenth-century Icelanders, as reflected in the fact that both the prose and poetic Eddas were committed to parchment at this time.»

С. 203-204: «The turning point in Njáll’s search for peace happens when the settlement with Flosi comes to nothing. After that the burning of Njáll is unavoidable, and so is the destruction of the world which the saga has depicted. The portents preceding the burning create an atmosphere reminiscent of the approach of ragnarök in Völuspá. But history and life itself go on, and in Njáls saga we are shown what happens. The roots of the new world are to be found in the Old… »

213: «… The attitudes and methods of saga writers changed over the period during which sagas were composed, and their contemporaries inevitably viewed the works in different ways, depending on their education, experience and temperament.»

225: «The alien, somewhat barbaric, yet (in its way) civilised saga world challenges the world view of the modern reader, who feels the need to master it by interpretations based on familiar ideas about guilt and innocence, sin and forgiveness, or even upper and lower classes…»

227: «

243-244: «


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