Old Norse Women's Poetry

Old Norse Women's Poetry

The Voices of Female Skalds

Sandra Ballif Straubhaar





Text, with English translation in two formats, of all the Old Norse poetry attributed to women - skáldkonur.
The rich and compelling corpus of Old Norse poetry is one of the most important and influential areas of medieval European literature. What is less well known, however, is the quantity of the material which can be attributed to women skalds. This book, intended for a broad audience, presents a bilingual edition (Old Norse and English) of this material, from the ninth to the thirteenth century and beyond, with commentary and notes. The poems here reflect the dramatic and often violent nature of the sagas: their subject matter features Viking Age shipboard adventures and shipwrecks; prophecies; curses; declarations of love and of revenge; duels, feuds and battles; encounters with ghosts; marital and family discord; and religious insults, among many other topics. Their authors fall into four main categories: pre-Christian Norwegian and Icelandic skáldkonur of the Viking Age; Icelandic skáldkonur of the Sturlung Age (thirteenth century); additional early skáldkonur from the Islendingasögur and related material, not as historically verifiable as the first group; and mythical figures cited as reciting verse in the legendary sagas (fornaldarsögur).

Sandra Ballif Straubhaar is Senior Lecturer in Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.


April 2011
158 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Library of Medieval Women
ISBN: 9781843842712
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT011000, SOC028000
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Table of Contents

Part 1: Verse Translations and Commentary
Real People, Real Poetry
Quasi-Historical People and Poetry
Visionary Women: Women's Dream-Verse
Legendary Heroines
Magic-Workers, Prophetesses and Alien Maidens
Part 2: Prose Translations
Glossary of Names: Persons and Weapons
Time Line


(O)ffers a lively and accessible introduction to the work of female poets in medieval Scandinavian texts. (...) seeks to give voice to the impressive range of women's poetry found within the corpus of Old Norse-Icelandic literature (...) the volume is admirable in its focus on female poets who have traditionally claimed less scholarly attention than their male counterparts. SAGA-BOOK

Drawing on the most up-to-date Norse texts available (...) Straubhaar's collection will be useful for Norse scholars thinking about poetic aspects of gender, literary scholars of European literature interested in gender conceptualisations, and should even appeal to the casual reader. MEDIUM AEVUM

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