Old Norse Literature discussion

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message 1: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Carl | 19 comments Mod
Please encourage your friends to join the coolest group on goodreads! Meaning this one! Old Norse literature is way to cool to have only 6 members!

message 2: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

Michael (michael_harmon) | 1 comments Carl. How could I not join? :)

message 3: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:36PM) (new)

C. | 5 comments Thanks for starting this group -- I'd thought of starting an O.N. group, but didn't think the interest was out there!

message 4: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new)

Carl | 19 comments Mod
I figured I'd just go for it-- I had some students at least whom I figured I could bully into joining, and some friends who were enthusiasts as well. Where did you study Old Norse?

message 5: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:41PM) (new)

C. | 5 comments My relationship with Old Norse started back as an undergrad at Bard College. I was a Medieval studies major, and due to an over exposure to Tolkien and Wagner as a child I was drawn more to the Northern Germanic tales than the romances and chansons. As a sophomore I took a class titled "The Medieval Epic", and fell in love with Njal's Saga. The next year I did a study abroad at Oxford University and although my program was mediocre at best, I managed to talk my way into an Old Norse tutorial with Carolyne Larrington and got to meet Ursula Donke and sit with the Old Norse reading group.

Back for my senior year, my thesis was a translation of Ragnars Saga Loðbrokar with critical notes and commentary. After I graduated, I got a Fulbrite to Iceland, ostensibly with the goal to "interview contemporary Icelandic authors as to the influence of the saga tradition on modern Icelandic literature." While the paper went nowhere (I was beginning to figure out that I had no desire to go into academia), it worked as an excuse to have coffee with almost every major author in the country (sadly I was two years too late to meet Halldor Laxness). There is a much longer story, but two years later Olafur Gunnarsson asked me to translate his novel Vetrarferðin, and I've been chipping away at it slowly for the last three years (no interested publisher really kills the whole motivation and deadline push).

So that's me -- a deep love for Old Norse, though for the last five years I've been a strictly Modern Icelandic guy. How about you? You say "students" - where do you teach?

message 6: by Carl (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:42PM) (new)

Carl | 19 comments Mod
Wow, I'm jealous. I've only been in Iceland a week. I'm looking for grants to keep working on my dissertation in Scandinavia next year-- I'm most likely going to be in Sweden, but maybe I'll look into Iceland. It would be nice to work with Gisli Sigurdsson or the others at the Arnamagnaean institute. I'll have to look over your book list for some modern Icelandic authors to read-- I'm afraid to say that I've been stuck in the middle ages, even though I know there is so much in Modern Icelandic lit that is good. I've got the impression that the lower a country's population, the more consistently good its literature is, like they don't have time to mess around with all the crap that big nations put out.
As for myself, I'm a grad student at UC Berkeley in the Scandinavian department, writing my dissertation on Old Norse skaldic ekphrasis (the poems Ragnarsdrapa, Husdrapa, and Haustlong, primarily). I taught reading and composition for my department using translated Norse texts the last 4 years or so, and now am using my last alotted year as a GSI to teach the Swedish language-- which is not as fun, but also cool. I've got some of my conference papers online at www.geocities.com/carlolsen78/, but the earliest ones don't come too highly recommended-- it took me a few years to get to a point where I could write intelligently on the subject and make an actual contribution. But I do like my papers which are also listed as my field papers-- including one on my dissertation topic.

message 7: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:42PM) (new)

C. | 5 comments Look into the Fulbrite. Lot's of people are scared to apply because it's "so prestigious", but the year I went 18 people applied for ten positions, so there was a better than 50/50 chance to get in, and I was the only person who had ever even seen Icelandic before. Iceland is the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing country I've ever spent time in -- I was unfortunate enough to loose my heart to a land that's very expensive to visit (and I'm not quite willing to cut off nearly all contact with friends and family to move there), though I'm always planning my next visit. If you love the sagas, there is nothing more thrilling than looking out over Bergþoraskvöll or Hliðerendi, or visiting Þingvellir.

My partner has a Flickr account where she posted pictures of our most recent trip two summers ago:


There are a few sets devoted to Iceland. As for modern Icelandic lit, do check out my shelf and my reviews. If you have any questions I love to give suggestions . . .

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