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(Not) Everything ends in tears : individuals, communities, and peacemaking in the ?slendingas?gur
Hughes, Kyle
THESIS 11450 The ?slendingaso?gur, or Icelandic family sagas, represent a deeply introspective cultural endeavour, the exploration of a nation of strong-willed, independent, and occasionally destructive men and women as they attempted to navigate their complex society in the face of uncertainty and hardship. In a society initially devoid of central authority, the Commonwealth's ability to not only survive, but adapt over nearly four centuries, fascinated the sagamen and their audiences as much as it fascinates scholars and readers today. Focused on feud, its utility in preserving overall order balanced against its destructive potential, the ?slendingaso?gur raise and explore difficult questions regarding the relationship between individual and community, and of power and compromise. This study begins by considering the realities of law and arbitration within the independent Commonwealth, in the context of the intense competitive pressure among go?ar and large farmers both during the Commonwealth period and in the early days of Norwegian rule. The portrayal of such socio-economic factors in the ?slendingaso?gur reflects the saga writers' wider interest with questions of power, and of conflict between individual freedom and communal good in a society characterised by economic and ecological stress as Iceland's independence waned. Central to the formulation of this conflict is the concept of ?jafna?r; its threatening potential for destabilisation of the community is argued to be at the heart of the most destructive examples of saga-feud. Building upon this, Chapter Two considers the ?jafna?arma?r ?orbj?rn ?j??reksson's tyrannical relationship to his followers and to the l?g in H?var?ar saga ?sfir?ings. Individual heroism, while praiseworthy, is contrasted with the need for broader, community-based support in controlling the oppressive tendencies of the ?jafna?arma?r. The protagonists, comprised of the typically vulnerable members of society, are examined as representatives of the communal good in a society in which resources are scarce and competition for honour high. This chapter draws out some of the implications of ?jafna?r and its potential to transgress the boundaries of personal feud to affect the welfare of the district and all those who, in other circumstances, would look for support to their chieftains. Chapter Three turns to Bjarnar saga H?tdoelakappa to elucidate the complex sources of ?jafna?r as it potentially exists in every ambitious Icelander's actions, even in otherwise noble figures like the promising Bj?rn. In the feud of the skalds, whose control of language and poetry enables them to further resist attempts to control their behaviour, this chapter also explores and interrogates ideas of royal power, the relationship of language and power, and roles of both community (in Iceland) and king (in Norway) as origins of law and peace. Lasting peace, it is argued, can only be achieved by a community itself invested in the peacemaking process. Chapter Four brings questions of ?jafna?r, compromise, and nonviolent resolution to a final conclusion in the celebrated and catastrophic feuds of Nj?ls saga. By chronicling the friendship and ambitions of the famous friends Nj?ll and Gunnarr, the sagaman of Nj?la forces his readers to engage with the question of what truly makes a good man, and the fine line between a sympathetic hero and a dangerous ?jafna?arma?r. This chapter traces the fortunes and falls of the initially well-intentioned Nj?ll and Gunnarr, connecting their actions to the later fire and battle at the Al?ing, exposing the delicate balance of power and peace as the l?g is fractured and, ultimately and perhaps in spite of all odds, repaired peacefully.The ?slendingaso?gur, or Icelandic family sagas, represent a deeply introspective cultural endeavour, the exploration of a nation of strong-willed, independent, and occasionally destructive men and women as they attempted to navigate their complex society in the face of uncertainty and hardship. In a society initially devoid of central authority, the Commonwealth's ability to not only survive, but adapt over nearly four centuries, fascinated the sagamen and their audiences as much as it fascinates scholars and readers today. Focused on feud, its utility in preserving overall order balanced against its destructive potential, the ?slendingaso?gur raise and explore difficult questions regarding the relationship between individual and community, and of power and compromise. This study begins by considering the realities of law and arbitration within the independent Commonwealth, in the context of the intense competitive pressure among go?ar and large farmers both during the Commonwealth period and in the early days of Norwegian rule. The portrayal of such socio-economic factors in the ?slendingaso?gur reflects the saga writers' wider interest with questions of power, and of conflict between individual freedom ...
Keyword(s): English, Ph.D.; Ph.D. Trinity College Dublin
Publication Date:
2017
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Citation(s): Kyle Hughes, '(Not) Everything ends in tears : individuals, communities, and peacemaking in the ?slendingas?gur', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of English, 2017
Publisher(s): Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). School of English
Supervisor(s): O'Briain, Helen Conrad
First Indexed: 2018-10-27 06:13:27 Last Updated: 2019-07-24 07:00:56