A Sense of Belonging

Morkinskinna and Icelandic Identity, c. 1220

By Armann Jakobsson

Contributions by: Fredrik Heinemann

Morkinskinna is a 13th-century Icelandic saga that portrays the kings who ruled Norway in the 11th and 12th centuries. It emerged during a particularly fertile period of composition of Icelandic kings' sagas, and marks a key moment in the genre's development, being the first extant work in Old Norse in which the reign of many kings is narrated in detail. The saga's structure has long been considered idiosyncratic among Old Norse kings' sagas. This book describes Morkinskinna as a quest for an identity in which both the royal court and poetry play a pivotal part. This quest binds together a work that moves from King Magnus the Good (d. 1047) to King Ingi Haraldsson (d. 1161), within a courtly society that may be regarded as the main character of the saga. In that society, there are two key figures who continually reappear in new guises: a courtier, often an Icelander, and a king. At the same time, the saga is concerned with narrative, poetry, and language itself. This text can be described as sometimes serious in tone, sometimes adventurous. The tale that is repeated in Morkinskinna is about a king who was not alone in the world, but rather at the head of a court where there were skalds and other entertainments, and about an Icelander who travelled widely in the world, sometimes with polar bears, sometimes with wisecracking ditties, but more often with poetry on his lips. It speaks of an Icelander who makes the Norwegian court his own society and the Norwegian king his leader. Thus, the Icelandic audience of the saga could hear about Norwegian court life and feel they belonged there. (Series: The Viking Collection - Vol. 22) [Subject: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Medieval Studies, Nordic Studies]


Publication Date: 10/5/2014
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9788776748456