This book explores the aesthetics, medial affordances, and cultural economics of monumental literary works of the digital age and offers a comparative and cross-cultural perspective on a wide range of contemporary writers. Using an international archive of hefty tomes by authors such as Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgård, George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and William T. Vollmann, van de Ven investigates multiple strands of bigness that speak to the tenuous position of print literature in the present but also to the robust stature of literary discourse within our age of proliferating digital media. Her study makes a case for the cultural agency of the big book—as a material object and a discursive phenomenon, entangled in complex ways with questions of canonicity, materiality, gender, and power. Van de Ven takes us into a contested terrain beyond the 1,000-page mark, where issues of scale and reader comprehension clash with authorial aggrandizement and the pleasures of binge reading and serial consumption.
Dubbed by the New York Times as "one of the most sought-after legal academics in the county," William Ian Miller presents the arcane worlds of the Old Norse studies in a way sure to attract the interest of a wide range of readers. Bloodtaking and Peacemaking delves beneath the chaos and brutality of the Norse world to discover a complex interplay of ordering and disordering impulses. Miller's unique and engaging readings of ancient Iceland's sagas and extensive legal code reconstruct and illuminate the society that produced them.
People in the saga world negotiated a maze of violent possibility, with strategies that frequently put life and limb in the balance. But there was a paradox in striking the balance—one could not get even without going one better. Miller shows how blood vengeance, law, and peacemaking were inextricably bound together in the feuding process.
This book offers fascinating insights into the politics of a stateless society, its methods of social control, and the role that a uniquely sophisticated and self-conscious law played in the construction of Icelandic society.
"Illuminating."—Rory McTurk, Times Literary Supplement
"An impressive achievement in ethnohistory; it is an amalgam of historical research with legal and anthropological interpretation. What is more, and rarer, is that it is a pleasure to read due to the inclusion of narrative case material from the sagas themselves."—Dan Bauer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Tolkien’s wizard Gandalf, Wagner’s Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Marvel’s superhero the Mighty Thor, the warrior heading for Valhalla in Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Donald Crisp’s portrayal of Leif Eriksson in the classic film The Viking—these are just a few examples of how Icelandic medieval literature has shaped human imagination during the past 150 years. Echoes of Valhalla is a unique look at modern adaptations of the Icelandic eddas (poems of Norse mythology) and sagas (ancient prose accounts of Viking history, voyages, and battles) across an astonishing breadth of art forms.
Jón Karl Helgason looks at comic books, plays, travel books, music, and films in order to explore the reincarnations of a range of legendary characters, from the Nordic gods Thor and Odin to the saga characters Hallgerd Long-legs, Gunnar of Hlidarendi, and Leif the Lucky. Roaming the globe, Helgason unearths echoes of Nordic lore in Scandinavia, Britain, America, Germany, Italy, and Japan. He examines the comic work of Jack Kirby and cartoon work of Peter Madsen; reads the plays of Henrik Ibsen and Gordon Bottomley; engages thought travelogues by Frederick Metcalfe and Poul Vad; listens to the music of Richard Wagner, Edward Elgar, and the metal band Manowar; and watches films by directors such as Roy William Neill and Richard Fleischer, outlining the presence of the eddas and sagas in these nineteenth- and twentieth-century works.
Altogether, Echoes of Valhalla tells the remarkable story of how disparate, age-old poetry and prose originally recorded in remote areas of medieval Iceland have come to be a part of our shared cultural experience today—how Nordic gods and saga heroes have survived and how their colorful cast of characters and adventures they went on are as vibrant as ever.
Written in Iceland by an unknown author about 1280, Njáls saga has been called the greatest work of vernacular prose fiction from the European Middle Ages. Allen's finely written and perceptive study is one of the first in English to offer a critical examination of the text.
In Search of First Contact is a monumental achievement by the influential literary critic Annette Kolodny. In this book, she offers a radically new interpretation of two medieval Icelandic tales, known as the Vinland sagas. She contends that they are the first known European narratives about contact with North America. After carefully explaining the evidence for that conclusion, Kolodny examines what happened after 1837, when English translations of the two sagas became widely available and enormously popular in the United States. She assesses their impact on literature, immigration policy, and concepts of masculinity.
Kolodny considers what the sagas reveal about the Native peoples encountered by the Norse in Vinland around the year A.D. 1000, and she recovers Native American stories of first contacts with Europeans, including one that has never before been shared outside of Native communities. These stories contradict the dominant narrative of "first contact" between Europeans and the New World. Kolodny rethinks the lingering power of a mythic American Viking heritage and the long-standing debate over whether Leif Eiriksson or Christopher Columbus should be credited as the first discoverer. With this paradigm-shattering work, Kolodny shows what literary criticism can bring to historical and social scientific endeavors.
Laughing Shall I Die explores the Viking fascination with scenes of heroic death. The literature of the Vikings is dominated by famous last stands, famous last words, death songs, and defiant gestures, all presented with grim humor. Much of this mindset is markedly alien to modern sentiment, and academics have accordingly shunned it. And yet, it is this same worldview that has always powered the popular public image of the Vikings—with their berserkers, valkyries, and cults of Valhalla and Ragnarok—and has also been surprisingly corroborated by archaeological discoveries such as the Ridgeway massacre site in Dorset.
Was it this mindset that powered the sudden eruption of the Vikings onto the European scene? Was it a belief in heroic death that made them so lastingly successful against so many bellicose opponents? Weighing the evidence of sagas and poems against the accounts of the Vikings’ victims, Tom Shippey considers these questions as he plumbs the complexities of Viking psychology. Along the way, he recounts many of the great bravura scenes of Old Norse literature, including the Fall of the House of the Skjoldungs, the clash between the two great longships Ironbeard and Long Serpent, and the death of Thormod the skald. One of the most exciting books on Vikings for a generation, Laughing Shall I Die presents Vikings for what they were: not peaceful explorers and traders, but warriors, marauders, and storytellers.
Moon Lily: (a novel)
Susan Lang University of Nevada Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3612.A555M66 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Ruth Farley is a stubbornly independent, free-spirited woman who homesteaded a piece of land at Glory Springs, deep in a beautiful, remote canyon in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the end of the 1930s she is still there, raising her two children and struggling to preserve her solitude. But the world is intruding. Her Indian friend Martha has been arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, and Ruth must join the Yuiatei tribe in trying to free her. In this final volume of Susan Lang’s Ruth Farley trilogy, Ruth discovers the limits of her autonomy and struggles to make peace with her painful past. As the story comes to a dramatic conclusion and the world descends into the madness of another war, Ruth finally understands that she is inextricably part of the human community and that her hard-won independence will not be sacrificed if she accepts and cherishes the bonds of love and friendship. Ruth Farley is one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction, a perplexing, sometimes exasperating, and utterly sympathetic modern woman torn between her desire for freedom and her need for love, her determination to live life on her own terms and the pressures that society places on a single woman. In this trilogy of novels, Susan Lang has achieved her place among our best contemporary fiction writers.
A late medieval Icelandic romance about the ‘maiden-king’ of France, Nítí¿a saga generated interest in its day and grew in popularity in post-Reformation Iceland, yet until now it has not received the comprehensive scholarly analysis that it much deserves. Analysing this saga from a variety of perspectives, this book sheds light on the manner in which Nítí¿a saga explores and negotiates the romance genre from an Icelandic perspective, showcasing this exciting saga’s strong female characters, worldviews, and long manuscript tradition. Beginning with Nítí¿a saga’s manuscript context, including its reception and transformation in early modern Iceland, this study also discusses how Nítí¿a saga was influenced by, and also later influenced, other Icelandic romances. Considering the text as literature, discussion of its unusual depiction of world geography, as well as the various characters and their relationships, provides insights into medieval Icelanders’ ideas about themselves and the world they lived in, including questions about Icelandic identity, gender, female solidarity, and the literary genre of romance itself. The book also includes a newly revised reading edition and translation of Nítí¿a saga.
Rivington Street: A NOVEL
Meredith Tax University of Illinois Press, 1982 Library of Congress PS3570.A9255R5 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
This sprawling historical novel follows the fortunes of four enterprising, courageous Jewish women on New York's Lower East Side. Hannah Levy masterminds her family's escape, despite her radical husband's objections, from czarist Russia after the Kishinev pogroms; elder daughter Sarah becomes a union organizer and a socialist while the younger Ruby rises to the top of the fashion design world; their friend Rachel abandons her ultra-Orthodox background to go to work for the Jewish Daily Forward. Through their lives, loves, and convictions, Meredith Tax draws the reader irresistibly into the explosive events that shaped women's possibilities in the early twentieth century.
An absorbing, epic novel, Rivington Street is also suitable for use as a classroom text.