Schmid, Hans Ulrich


Schmid, Hans Ulrich, “Old writings are no mystery to me… Skaldenstrophen der Orkneyinga Saga und George Mackay Brown”, in: Moran, Pádraic, and Immo Warntjes (eds), Early medieval Ireland and Europe: chronology, contacts, scholarship. A Festschrift for Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Studia Traditionis Theologiae 14, Turnhout: Brepols, 2015. 671–694.

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Citation details
“Old writings are no mystery to me… Skaldenstrophen der Orkneyinga Saga und George Mackay Brown”
Abstract (cited)
George Mackay Brown (1921-96), one of the most prominent Scottish authors of modern times, frequently applies historical themes in his work, especially in his lyrics. His favourite source, in this respect, is the 13th-century Orkneyinga Saga, presumably of Icelandic authorship. It contains the story of Jarl Rognvaldr Kolsson’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which shows more features of a grand tour and a raid than of a pious expedition. As in most of the traditional Icelandic saga literature, the Orkneyinga Saga also contains a considerable number of Lausavisur, a ‘loose rhyme’ of predominantly eight lines, especially in the direct speech of Jarl Rognvaldr. George Mackay Brown has transformed 24 of these Old Norse verses into modern poetry. The present article analyzes his methodology, ranging from close adaptation to vague borrowings.
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Dennis Groenewegen