This chapter investigates a curious statute in medieval Iceland’s laws requiring the burial of found body parts according to proper Christian ritual. Hardly an Icelandic idiosyncrasy, the phenomenon reflects eschatological discussions occurring more broadly in medieval Christendom regarding the role of the body at the time of the Last Judgement.
In this paper, the poem “Darraðarljóð” that is preserved at the end of Njáls saga is looked at from three points of view: its origin in Nordic and Gaelic mythology, its place within the saga, and the viewpoint of the time of Njála’s composition in the thirteenth century. It is discussed whether the text can be defined as a vision, using theories from vision literature, with main focus on the West Nordic concept of leizla.
This article explores the semantic history of the Old Norse-Icelandic word blámaðr. While scholars have traditionally focused only on its core meaning, “black African,” this article aims to illustrate how more complicated layers of meaning surround the word and its use in Old Norse literature.
Monstrosity has long been regarded as only a physical category in medieval literature and culture as well as possessing an inherent essentialism. This article aims to challenge both of these ideas, instead offering a reading of monstrosity as a fluid spectrum based on contemporary monster theories, and as a concept that, in the Íslendingasögur, depends more on behavior than on looks.
This chapter investigates the mythological site Hliðskjálf, how it is encountered by Norse paranormal characters, and its attributes across the mythological corpus. The author contends the site actively constructs mythical space and, by connecting center and the periphery, represents the prevailing geocentric cosmology contemporaneous to source composition and early transmission.
Several prominent figures experience significant dreams at pivotal moments in the thirteenth-century Brennu-Njáls saga. This article, however, deals with dreams that appear at the social and/or narratological margins of the narrative. It examines how such dreams are used to bring different kinds of meaning to the text.
Through a close reading of the primary sources, the article challenges the conventional idea that female fylgjur represent a distinct taxonomical category of paranormal beings by arguing that the dichotomy between animal and female fylgjur has been established by scholarship rather than being founded in the medieval textual sources.
The article addresses the paradoxical nature of medieval miracles. They were wondrous but also “normal” everyday experiences. Since most miracles tell of cures, medieval ideas about body, health, and disease are examined. Miracles reflect the emotions of those who are cured by the intercession of a saint, with joy being the fundamental emotion experienced.