Thoughts on Voice

  • Can you tell different authors? What makes a different voice?
    • Similar characters described differently
    • Christianity is portrayed differently
    • Different focus - Romance, honour, etc.
    • Sagas probably came from oral tradition, meaning that many voices created it, but one person wrote it down
    • Not super important, keep in mind

Notes on Laxdæla Saga

  • Laxdaela Saga
    • Preserved in numerous manuscripts
      • Second in number only to Njala
      • More important/popular than others?
      • People who were interested could have been more wealthy
      • Sagas document genealogies, so it's likely that the interested families would pay to support the saga
        • We've found around 40 family sagas, including those that only exist in fragments, but not necessarily including the small sagas.
      • Might just be luck... (library that didn't burn down, no one handled them, etc.)
      • As to why, no good known reason, and it might just be random chance. This is annoying
    • Written c1230
    • What's different?
      • Focus on romance
      • Women have some degree of agency
      • Honour from women - royal birth
      • Different perspectives
    • What's the same?
      • Heads get chopped off...
      • Getting support from foreign kings
    • Speculation that Laxdaela was composed by a woman
      • When slave is freed, a woman frees him without consent from husband
      • Iceland was definitely patriarchal, even though women had more rights than their mainland European counterparts.
      • Male writers - Strong will, not many descriptions
      • Woman writer - Men described as handsome, physical descriptions
      • Women's actions are described waaay more in this story, as well as their motivations
      • Women are more rational
      • Romantic process is described in detail
      • What assumptions are we making?
        • Emphasize similar narratives
        • Romance
        • Emotions
        • Need to be careful to not run away with hypotheses... And re-evaluate hypthosis as new information becomes available
  • See map in book jpg
  • Characters new and old
    • What characters have we seen before?
      • Hrut, Hoskuld, Egil, Halgerd, Queen Gunnhild, Olaf Peacock (sheltered Gunner)
      • Why repeat characters?
        • Hrapp is a literary trope of a bad guy - like naming your kid "Mort" or something
        • Add legitamacy to saga
        • Sagas are about important people, makes sense that people are repeated, not that many important people
          • 40,000 to 60,000 people during viking iceland
      • What can comparisons tell us?
        • Hrut & Hoskuld
          • Njal - They come as a unit, they are allies, but only relevant in how they relate to Njal.
          • Laxdaela - Feud between them for a time
        • Halgerd
          • Njal - lots of information, because was directly important.
          • Laxdaela - not super important
      • Characters wax/wane importance based on direct relevance to the narrative.
  • Unn/Aud the Deep Minded (same person)
    • Claimed a ton of land
    • Goes with father Ketil abroad - to Scotland, becomes kings for a while.
    • When her son/father die, what does she do?
      • Builds a boat with ton of servants and leaves. Goes to Iceland, claims a ton of land.
      • What does author think? Author loves this
    • Arrival in Iceland, brothers
    • Settles Hvammsfjord as matriarch (279)
      • Rewards by freeing slaves, and rewarding land to anyone that pleases her
    • "Everyone was impressed at how well Unn had kept her dignity to her dying day" (282)
    • Claimed she was buried in a ship gif
  • Thorgerd Thorsteinsdottir
    • Marries Dala-Koll, Laxdala dowry, has son named Hoskuld (same guy in Njal)
    • Koll dies, she goes to Norway - people love her
    • Marries Herjolf (his standing improves), son named Hrut (283)
    • Widowed again, returns to Iceland
    • Hoskuld gets all her land, even though Hrut is entitled to half
  • Jorunn Bjarnardottir
    • Married to Hoskuld
    • How described? (284)
      • Good looking, proud, etc.
      • Considered "the best match in the entire west fjords", but not sure why
    • Consulted, marries Hoskuld
      • Civil relationship, not much affection between them
      • Children - Thorleik, Bard, Hallgerd, Thurid
    • Reaction to silent slave woman? She's understandable upset...
  • Silent Slave Woman
    • Hoskuld buys her while abroad
    • How does the author foreshadow her royalty?
      • Beauty, wears nicer clothing very well (concept that royalty does everything better), worth more than other women (3x others)
    • Muteness?
      • Seen as flaw
      • Silent rebellion?
      • Only talks to Olaf
    • Son Olaf, who is amazing
    • "My name is Melkorka, and I am the daughter of King Myrkjartan of Ireland"
    • Fights with Jorunn (Melkorka not pulling her weight); they get in a fight; Hoskuld moves Melkorka and Olaf to another farm
  • DNA in Iceland
    • Lots of women from Britain (Ireland)
    • Lots of men from Norway
    • Look at mitochondrial DNA, extract DNA from teeth?
  • Trouble in a fishing village
    • "catches would be worse if there was fighting in the village"
      • Need cooperation to survive
      • Became a saying to discourage bad behavior
      • Social knowledge learned from saga
    • Thord Goddi, Vigdis, Hall, Ingjald, and Thorolf (ch 14-16)
      • Hall took more than his share, Thorolf kills him
      • Vigdis shelters Thorolf, Thord not happy about this (Vigdis & Thord married) Thord sells out Thorolf
    • What does Vigdis do when she discovers her husbands deception?
      • Instructs slave to take him to kinsmen, and given freedom in exchange
      • 3oz of silver, smacks him across face, he bleeds, grounds for legal prosecution, but no case brought against her
      • Divorces Thord
    • What does this (and the men's reactions) tell us?
      • Powerful woman "shame a women like her is so poorly married"
      • Possibly agency because of women author
      • If male author, she'd probably come off as crazy
    • Vigdis family wants half of Thord's property - but she's not legally entitled to anything
      • Thord goes to Hoskuld for help
      • Thord offers to foster Olaf in exchange for Hoskuld's support
        • Why is this good for Hoskuld and Olaf? Thord is rich with no heirs, so Olaf stands to inherit everything
    • Argument that Vigdis included as another instance of female agency?
  • Drama between Hoskuld and Hrut
    • Hrut beloved in Norway (Queen Gunnhild loves him)
    • Queen Gunnhild
      • Egil's saga - she's evil, casts spells, really bad person
      • Njal's saga - Receptive/caring
      • Laxdaela saga - She's loving, nice, caring, etc.
      • Always a sorceress, sometimes good, sometimes bad
    • Hrut claims his share of Thorgerd's property
    • Hoskuld: Thorgerd left Iceland with property, did not consult me in her marriage to Hrut's father
    • Hrut fails a lot
    • Hrut's theft of cattle (takes half), battle with Hoskuld's farmhands (Irish moment)
    • Hoskuld and Jorunn (302)
      • Hoskuld is a little upset...
      • Jorunn calms him down, settlement is better than having a saga written about this later
      • Reconciliation - yes, really!
  • Olaf Peacock (always wearing nice clothing)
    • Olaf described beautiful and amazing
    • Why does Melkorka marries Thorbjorn Pock-marked?
      • To send Olaf abroad for legitimacy
      • Make Hoskuld jealous
    • Journey - Norway, Ireland (speaks better than the natives (implausible, but he's our hero))
      • Gunnhild loves him
      • Myrkjartan loves him - tell him he should be king, which Olaf refuses
    • Olaf returns, marries Thorgerd Egilsdottir
      • Egil has a saga, so he's calm here, doesn't want to take away from Olaf
    • No peacocks in Iceland - arises from either exotic animal exchange, or linguistic exchange
    • Thorleik Hsokuldsson kills Hrolf Freedman (farming on wrong land), and seizes his farm
    • The death of Hoskuld (319)
      • Inheritance, Thorleik's/Bard's response
    • How does Olaf mend fences with Thorleik? Fosters his son (320)
    • Olaf has son, Kjartan Olafsson
    • Kjartan and Bolli same age, best of friends
  • Gudrun's First 2 Marriages
    1. Gudrun is given to Thorvald
      • Does not consent
      • Husband slaps her, "rosy cheeks, just what every woman needs", promise of vengeance
      • How does Gudrun justify a divorce? Makes him a really low-cut shirt, shows his nipples, he wears it, and that's grounds for divorce.

For Thursday

Read article about sexuality and servitude.