Durrenberger, E. Paul, 1943-. Humor as a guide to social change: BANDAMANNA SAGA and heroic values

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Title: Humor as a guide to social change: BANDAMANNA SAGA and heroic values

Published in: From sagas to society : comparative approaches to early Iceland, edited by Gísli Pálsson

Published By: From sagas to society : comparative approaches to early Iceland, edited by Gísli Pálsson Enfield Lock, Middlesex, UK: Hisarlik Press, 1992. 111-123 p.

By line: E. Paul Durrenberger and Jonathan Wilcox

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2004. Computer File

Culture: Early Icelanders (EQ02)

Subjects: Humor (522); Verbal arts (5310); Social relationships and groups (571); Ethics (577); Ingroup antagonisms (578); Districts (634); Trial procedure (695); Execution of justice (696);

Abstract: The use of Icelandic family sagas in the reconstruction of medieval Icelandic history and social order has long been contested in the literature. This issue is significant because although the sagas present a relatively full account of Icelandic life in the tenth and eleventh centuries, yet they cannot be treated in a simple way as ethnographic description. 'One crucial problem faced by any attempt to exploit them for their picture of society is the time between the events they describe and when they were written down in the thirteenth century' (p.111). In this article the authors focus on an example of a single family saga, the 'Bandamanna saga', and their interpretation of what this particular saga can tell us about the social and political realities of either the period it was set or that in which it was written. The contextualized picture of the society depicted in the 'Bandamanna saga' is then compared to the collection of sagas about contemporary thirteenth century times appearing in the 'Sturlinga sagas'. 'In the Sturlung period, people revalued concepts such as reciprocity, honor, and law, all at a discount to the political manoeuvre of the age. Their valuations and re-valuations informed their writing about the past as well as about contemporary events' (p. 112).

Document Number: 15

Document ID: eq02-015

Document Type: Essay

Language: English

Note: For bibliographical references see document 10: [Gísli Pálsson].

Field Date: no date

Evaluation: Ethnologist, Educator-4

Analyst: John Beierle ; 2002

Coverage Date: ninth-thirteenth centuries

Coverage Place: general Iceland

LCSH: Icelanders

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