A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics
Title Details

296 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

A History of Old Norse Poetry and Poetics

by Margaret Clunies Ross

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  • Author
  • Reviews
Accessible guide to and description of the medieval poetic tradition in Scandinavia.

This is the first book in English to deal with the twin subjects of Old Norse poetry and the various vernacular treatises on native poetry that were a conspicuous feature of medieval intellectual life in Iceland and the Orkneys from the mid-twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. Its aim is to give a clear description of the rich poetic tradition of early Scandinavia, particularly in Iceland, where it reached its zenith, and to demonstrate the social contextsthat favoured poetic composition, from the oral societies of the early Viking Age in Norway and its colonies to the devout compositions of literate Christian clerics in fourteenth-century Iceland.
The author analyses the two dominant poetic modes, eddic and skaldic, giving fresh examples of their various styles and subjects; looks at the prose contexts in which most Old Norse poetry has been preserved; and discusses problems of interpretation thatarise because of the poetry's mode of transmission. She is concerned throughout to link indigenous theory with practice, beginning with the pre-Christian ideology of poets as favoured by the god ódinn and concluding with the Christian notion that a plain style best conveys the poet's message.

Margaret Clunies Ross is McCaughey Professor of English Language and Early English Literature and Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney.

Margaret Clunies Ross is an Emeritus Professor of English Language and Early English Literature and Honorary Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide. She has written extensively on Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, poetry and myth.

"A valuable contribution to mediaeval studies." MEDIAEVISTIK
"One of the strongest features of the book is its function as a uniquely authoritative guide to scholarship (and scholarly neglect) in the field. A very welcome addition to skaldic scholarship." SAGA-BOOK
"[A] richly detailed, informative and imaginative treatment." JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY
"A successful and well-written conspectus of a subject of huge importance to Norwegian and Icelandic literary and cultural history. It is likely to become the standard text on the subject for English-speaking readers. It is also a beautifully-produced volume. ... Most readers will find that this book provides them with the best introduction to Old Norse poetry and its literary and cultural contexts now available." SCANDINAVICA
"An intellectual and literary history that is rich in content and that takes account of the recent contributions of a wide range of scholars. Coincidentally the book provides an excellent synopsis of the poetry itself, taking examples from unexpected directions and expounding the material in a way that has much to offer both beginners and those who are further advanced in their studies. It therefore unquestionably deserves its place on the reading lists for beginners' courses in Old Norse poetry." SPECULUM



August 2011


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Title Details

296 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Imprint: D.S.Brewer