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Saga-Accounts of Norse Far-Travellers

By DOUGLAS JOHN SHAFER

Abstract

The thesis examines the medieval Icelandic sagas’ many accounts of travel taken by Scandinavian characters to lands in the distant north, south, east and west. These Norse far-travellers have various motivations for their journeys, and particular motivations and motifs are associated with each cardinal direction. Travel to the distant west and north, for example, is typified by commercial motivations: real estate and settlement schemes in the west, trade and tribute-collection in the north. Travel to the distant east frequently takes the form of royal exile, and piety is often the central motivation for journeys to the distant south. Other sorts of narrative patterns are also discussed. It is shown, for example, that there is a sort of “moral geography” evident in the literature, whereby journeys towards “holy” regions (east and south) are more spiritually beneficial than journeys in the opposite directions.\ud The study systematically identifies and discusses saga-accounts of far-travel, surveying the various purposes and themes associated with each of the cardinal directions. The first chapter introduces the material and key terms and provides a survey of the relevant scholarship. The following four chapters cover far-travel in each of the four directions, west, south, east and north respectively. The primary-text examples cited throughout support literary observations, and the conclusions drawn are all focused on literary aspects of the texts. Additionally, some historical observations are occasionally made, though these are never the main focus of the arguments. The sixth and final chapter supplements the concluding sections of these four main chapters and draws additional conclusions. The concluding chapter also offers a diagrammatic representation of the relationships between the various motivations for far-travel in the different cardinal directions.\u

Topics: Saga Iceland Norway Scandinavia Medieval Travel Travelogue Norse Sagas Icelander Icelanders Scandinavian Mediaeval Traveller Travellers Exploration
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:286
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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