The Emergence of Rationality in the Icelandic Sagas: The Colossal Misunderstanding of the Viking Lore in Contemporary Popular Culture

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Abstract

For a long time now, Old Norse literature has often been colonized and misappropriated by modern right-wing political groups for their own ideology, symbolism, and public appearance. A critical reading of Icelandic sagas, however, easily demonstrates that those public strategies are very short-sighted, misleading, and outright dangerous for our democratic society. To stem the flood of misinformation regarding the Viking world and its literature, this article joins a small but forceful chorus of recent scholars who are hard at work deconstructing this politicization of saga literature by way of offering new readings of those texts in which the very Viking ideology is actually exposed by the poets, rejected, and supplanted by new forms of social interactions predicated on a legal system and an operation with rationality in the public sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalHumanities (Switzerland)
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • conversion to Christianity
  • Egil’s Saga
  • Icelandic sagas
  • laws
  • Laxdaela Saga
  • Njál’s Saga
  • old Norse literature
  • rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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