(Parenthesis! Sagas, civil war, and locality…)


All too awake in the later early hours of this morning, I began reading about local history. It turns out there may not be too much I’m the way of vibrant history as, going by wiki:

Permanent settlement at Akureyri started in 1778, and eight years later, the town was granted its municipal charter by the king of Denmark (and at the time Iceland also) along with five other towns in Iceland. The king hoped to improve the living conditions of Icelanders by this action because at the time, Iceland had never had urban areas. As far as the king was concerned Akureyri was unsuccessful, because it did not grow from its population of 12

I also discovered that, in the worst battle in Iceland’s history, in the midst of a brutal and internecine civil war, 2,200 people fought yielding 50 fatalities. That’s none too bad, given that several of the sagas I’ve browsed have documented (for example) 15 people killed in one over-enthusiastic barney. In another, being detained in Norway led to three generations of intergenerational butchery. There’s an In Our Time on this. I probably should’ve listened better. 

Anyhows. Prompted by yesterday’s marginal farms and hobbit holes, I tried to find out if there are any local sagas. And stumbled across this: an (admittedly 1899) map of saga homesteads, on a blog by a Cambridge academic who’s tried to read each of the sagas in its home location. 

Turns out that yesterday, by Odinsfjorthir, I think, we drove past the home of one of Iceland’s less literary sagas. Whilst small enough to have no wiki entry of note (arg), it does have a blog dedicated to its incoherent violence

Svarfdӕla saga is a saga that has been cursed with issues, such as missing sections of its manuscript and unexplainable or unreasonable acts of violence within the storyline. Even for an Icelandic family saga, the violence demonstrated in Svarfdӕla saga can easily overpower the intent of the storyline. The saga’s lack of success among scholars of Old Norse-Icelandic literature has been notable. Svarfdӕla appeared to lack solid themes, purpose and motivation, disallowing its inner mechanisms to come to life. The very text itself appeared unruly and unmanageable, just like the valley and the people it is describing.

I once read a Harlan Coben book, so kinda know how she feels. 

Akureyri is near the homesteads of the Viga-Glums saga, which “…tells of a chieftain who kills several people and tries to cover his guilt. It is believed to have been written in the 13th century” (wiki), and Ljostveninga, which wiki doesn’t even bother to describe. Full texts here and here, though the latter will only be useful to those fluent in Icelandic or Danish. I’ll try to read the former later!

In other news, A has asked me to post this week’s weather. It’s been my experience that, despite the alleged English obsession for talking about the weather, French people look it up far more. 



I am reliably informed that the numbers mean unglorious conditions ahead!