The Arthur of the North

The Arthur of the North: The Arthurian Legend in the Norse and Rus' Realms

edited by Marianne E. Kalinke
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhgfr
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    The Arthur of the North
    Book Description:

    The book introduces the reader to the stories about King Arthur and his knights and the lovers Tristan and Isolt that flourished in the Scandinavian countries—in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—in the Middle Ages and in early modern times. The versions of the Arthurian legend that were popular in the North were translations of mostly French literature. Although they were similar to their sources in many respects, the stories nonetheless underwent change in order to appeal to a culturally quite different audience in the North.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2354-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-x)
    Ad Putter
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. 1-4)
    Marianne E. Kalinke

    A monograph on Arthurian romance in the West Nordic region was published in 1981 bearing the titleKing Arthur, North-by-Northwest.¹ This was intended to indicate the transmission of French Arthurian narratives to the North, that is, Norway, and from there to Iceland, that is, the Northwest. The subtitle of the present volume expresses a broader initiative. TheArthur of the Northis a study of thematière de Bretagnein a more extended linguistic and geographic region than that undertaken in the 1981 volume and first covered in the chapter on Scandinavia by P.M. Mitchell in Roger Sherman Loomis’sArthurian...

  5. 1 THE INTRODUCTION OF THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND IN SCANDINAVIA (pp. 5-21)
    Marianne E. Kalinke

    According to the above excerpt fromBreta sögur, the Icelandic translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’sHistoria regum Britanniae, King Arthur conquered the entire North, Iceland excepted. Lacking in the translation is Geoffrey’s statement that after his conquest of Ireland, King Arthur ‘classem suam direxit in Islandiam eamque debellato populo subiugauit’ (Reeve edn 2007, 205) (took his fleet to Iceland, where he defeated the natives and conquered their land) (Wright trans. 2007, 204). The omission is ironic, considering that King Arthur did indeed successfully conquer Iceland in the sense that with one exception the Arthurian narratives thought to have been translated...

  6. 2 SOURCES, TRANSLATIONS, REDACTIONS, MANUSCRIPT TRANSMISSION (pp. 22-47)
    Marianne E. Kalinke

    Study of the Arthurian matter translated in Norway and Iceland is complicated by the fact that in no case do we have the manuscript from which a text was translated, be that French or Latin, and in no instance has a manuscript been preserved that represents the actual translation, be that into Norwegian or Icelandic. Even the only Norwegian manuscript that postdates by only a few decades the translation of a group of short narratives has been shown to be an unreliable witness of the actual translation.

    In the transmission of thematière de Bretagneto the North a twofold...

  7. 3 BRETA SÖGUR AND MERLÍNÚSSPÁ (pp. 48-60)
    Stefanie Gropper

    Breta sögur(The Sagas of the Britons) is the Old Icelandic translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’sHistoria regum Britanniae.Breta söguralso containsMerlínússpá, the Old Icelandic translation of theProphetiae Merlini.Merlínússpáis the only translation into verse and thus has a unique position among the translations of foreign literature undertaken in Norway and Iceland. According to two manuscripts (AM 544 4to, the so-calledHauksbók, and AM 573 4to) the poem was translated by Gunnlaugr Leifsson, a monk and well-known author of Kings’ Sagas in the Benedictine monastery of Þingeyrar in northern Iceland, a centre of literary production in...

  8. 4 THE TRISTAN LEGEND (pp. 61-76)
    Geraldine Barnes

    According to tradition,Tristrams saga ok Ísöndar, the Old Norse version of Thomas of England’sTristan(c.1180), was the first of the Matter of Britainriddarasögur: romances translated and adapted from Old French and Anglo-Norman verse into Old Norse prose during the reign of the Norwegian king, Hákon Hákonarson (r.1217–63). Although the authenticity of the statement that prefaces the only two completeTristrams sagamanuscripts (AM 543 4to and ÍB 51 fol.) has been disputed (Sverrir Tómasson 1977), it offers specific details about the production of the work:

    Hér skrifaz sagan af Tristram ok Ísönd dróttningu, í hverri talat verðr...

  9. 5 THE TRANSLATED LAIS (pp. 77-97)
    Carolyne Larrington

    Among the French texts translated into Old Norse for Hákon IV Hákonarson of Norway (r.1217–63) and his court is a collection of Marie de France’slaisand a number oflaisby anonymous authors, known asStrengleikar(Cook and Tveitane edn 1979), andMöttuls saga(Kalinke edn 1987; Kalinke edn 1999), a translation into prose of the French poemLe lai du cort mantel, a chastity-test tale involving a magic cloak.Möttuls sagalater became the basis for a set of Icelandicrímur, a metrical version of the same story, Skikkjurímur (Driscoll edn 1999), somewhat expanded in scope and...

  10. 6 THE OLD NORSE-ICELANDIC TRANSMISSION OF CHRÉTIEN DE TROYES’S ROMANCES: ÍVENS SAGA, EREX SAGA, PARCEVALS SAGA WITH VALVENS ÞÁTTR (pp. 98-122)
    Claudia Bornholdt

    The above comment by Sir Íven inÍvens sagahelps illustrate a number of aspects characteristic of the three Scandinavian sagas that translate, or, to be more accurate, adapt Chrétien de Troyes’s French romancesYvain ou le Chevalier au Lion,Erec et EnideandPerceval ou le Conte du Graalinto the Old Norse language and Scandinavian culture. Just as Íven’s lion does not act like aberserkr, the Arthurian knights in the Norse sagas most certainly do not act like uncultured men-beasts either, though their character and conduct differ quite a bit from those of the traditional heroes in...

  11. 7 THE OLD SWEDISH HÆRRA IVAN LEONS RIDDARE (pp. 123-144)
    William Layher

    The Arthurian romanceHærra Ivan Leons riddare‘Sir Ivan, the Knight with the Lion’ is one of a trio of Old Swedish works translated during the years 1303–12 at the Norwegian court of Hákon V Magnússon (r.1299–1319) and his wife, Queen Eufemia. Although the Norwegian royal line had a distinguished tradition of literary patronage — Hákon’s grandfather Hákon IV Hákonarson (r.1217–63) had a number of Arthurian romances and other courtly texts translated into Old Norse during his reign — the three Old Swedish texts were translated not at the king’s behest but rather under the direction of Queen Eufemia...

  12. 8 ARTHURIAN ECHOES IN INDIGENOUS ICELANDIC SAGAS (pp. 145-167)
    Marianne E. Kalinke

    TheSaga af Tristram ok Ísoddexcepted, the translations of Arthurian literature into Old Norse and Old Icelandic did not lead to the creation of an indigenous Icelandic Arthurian literature, as occurred, for example, in the German-language area. The translated Arthurianriddarasögurleft echoes, however, in both the Sagas of Icelanders and the indigenous romances by incorporating certain motifs and episodes from the corpus. To judge by some Arthurian motifs not found in the translations, acquaintance with thematière de Bretagnein the North also seems to have been transmitted through oral tradition. The favourite donor of Arthurian motifs was...

  13. 9 ARTHURIAN BALLADS, RÍMUR, CHAPBOOKS AND FOLKTALES (pp. 168-195)
    M. J. Driscoll

    Thematière de Bretagne, especially the legend of Tristan, remained popular — and productive — in late medieval and early modern Scandinavia, not least in Iceland. One clear indication of this is the continued transmission of the Old Norse translations and adaptations from French — the so-calledriddarasögur— well into the modern era.Erex saga, for example, the Old Norse translation of Chrétien’sErec et Enide, is found in eleven manuscripts, only one of which, a fragment comprising two parts of a single leaf, is from before the Reformation; the others are all post-medieval, the youngest from the beginning of the twentieth century...

  14. 10 ARTHURIAN LITERATURE IN EAST SLAVIC (pp. 196-208)
    Susana Torres Prieto

    The title of the present chapter requires at least a few clarifications for the non-specialist in medieval Slavic studies. First of all, the term Slavic is, above all, a linguistic identifier. For many decades now, it has been a conventional way of classifying the vast territories stretching from Bohemia to Muscovy and from Gdansk to Dubrovnik. Following the linguistic criteria of the development of Slavic into three large linguistic branches, all those territories were divided into areas of Western — or Central — Slavic, South Slavic and East Slavic. This terminology, however, did not account for religious and cultural differences or the...

  15. GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 209-212)
  16. INDEX OF MANUSCRIPTS (pp. 213-214)
  17. GENERAL INDEX (pp. 215-224)

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