IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 128: Cultural Contexts for Scandinavian Narrative

Monday 9 July 2007, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:John S. McKinnell, Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies
Paper 128-aSeizing the Supernatural: Capturing Völundr and Merlin
(Language: English)
Frog, University College London / University of Helsinki
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Middle English, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Pagan Religions
Paper 128-bWhy Lancelot or Le Chevalier de la Charrette Did Not Get a Norse Career
(Language: English)
Liliane Irlenbusch-Reynard, Abteilung für Skandinavische Sprachen und Literaturen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Index terms: Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Mentalities
Paper 128-cSagas without Contexts: Arthurian Motif and Chivalric Intervention in Volsunga Saga
(Language: English)
Philip Cardew, London South Bank University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Scandinavian

Paper a: Völundr’s name was reduced to a common noun in Old Norse language while the only evidence that he survived as an independent figure in Scandinavia is found a) on the Gotlandic picture stone Ardre VIII, which bears Anglo-Saxon iconography and stylistic influences, b) Þiðriks saga af Bern, translated from continental Germanic sources, and c) the Eddic poem Völundarkviða, also bearing strong Anglo-Saxon influences. The two narrative accounts offer completely different histories of the smith preceding the revenge sequence. This paper will consider the capture of Merlin by Grisandolus as a possible analogue for the variant description of Völundr’s capture in Völundarkviða.
Paper b: In the 13th century the courtly literature of feudal Europe was obviously of interest in the North, and especially in Norway and Iceland, as the numerous translations of works in Old French attest. In this context, Lancelot appears to be the great exception: the famous work of Chrétien de Troyes remaining untranslated. Considering the peculiarities of these translations which render them rather adaptations by systematically censoring and transforming the originals in order to conform to the mentalities of the North, my paper shows why the plot and message of Lancelot constituted impediments too strong for a possible Norse adaptation.
Paper c: Medieval Iceland is a commonwealth which, yet, has close ties to the Scandinavian mainland and thus to more conventional monarchical societies. More importantly, Iceland is itself annexed by one such society (Norway, 1262-4) at a time when the production of the sagas is at its height. This paper will examine the extent to which the incursion of chivalric and Arthurian motif within the sagas might be said to reflect a culture that is uneasy about its identity and political status.