WEMSK36:Old Norse Literature


                     WEMSK36 - Old Norse Literature        

1. Bibliographies:

a. It is assumed that you will consult the standard works, such as
The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, but let me mention: Paul
Schach, "Old Norse Literature," in The Medieval Literature of
Western Europe, ed. John H. Fisher (NY: MLA, 1966), 255-280. An
excellent survey by a real expert.

b. Hans Bekker-Nielsen, Old Norse-Icelandic Studies.  A Select
Bibliography (Toronto: TUP, 1967). Still worth looking into.

c. Carol Clover & John Lindow, eds., Old Norse-Icelandic
Literature, A Critical Guide, Islandica 45 (Ithaca: Cornell UP,
1985). A series of review articles by John Lindow, Joe Harris,
Roberta Frank, Ted Andersson, Carol Clover and Marianne Kalinke.

d. Bibliography of Old Norse Icelandic Studies (BONIS) (Copenhagen:
Munksgaard, 1964-), the standard periodical bibliography in the
field (1963-), by Hans Bekker-Nielsen & Thorkil Damsgaard Olsen.
Now available electronically from Odense University.

2. Catalogues (the catalogues of the Fiske Icelandic Collection at
Cornell are outstanding resources for printed materials):

a. Cornell University Library. Catalogue of the Icelandic
Collection bequeathed by Willard Fiske (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1914).
Available in reprint, 1960.

b. ________, Additions 1913-26, 1927; repr. 1960.

c. ________, Additions 1927-42, 1943; repr. 1960.

d. Islandkatalog der Universitaetsbibliothek Kiel und dder
Universitaets- und Stadtbibliothek Koeln, ed. Olaf Klose (Kiel:
Universitaetsbibliothek, 1931.  Worth consulting.

e. A Catalogue of the Icelandic Collection, University Library,
Leeds (Leeds: The Library, 1978).

3. Histories of Literature:

a. Finnur Jonsson, Den oldnorske og oldislandske Litteraturs
Historie, 2d ed., 3 vols. (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1920-24). A
golden oldie.

b. Jan de Vries, Altnordische Literaturgeschichte, 2d ed., 2 vols.
Pauls Grundriss (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1964-67). Excellent; your
first port of call.

c. Gabriel Turville-Petre, Origins of Icelandic Literature (Oxford:
OUP, 1953). Thin, but good and readable.

d. Norsk litteraturhistorie, ed. Francis Bull, et al.  Vol. 1,
Norges og Islands litteratur inntil utgangen av Middelalderen, by
Fredrik Paasche, rev. ed. by Anne Holtsmark (Oslo: Aschehoug, 1957.
Good. Paasche's 1924 original with Holtsmark's "Tillegg"
(Supplement) after each chapter.

e. Illustrerad svensk litteraturhistoria, ed. Henrik Schueck et
al., vol. 1, Forntiden och medeltiden, 3d ed. (Stockholm: Gidlund,
1985; repr. of 1926 ed.). Best first port of call.

f. Ny illustrerad svensk litteraturhistoria, ed. E. N. Tigerstedt,
vol. 1, Forntiden. Medeltiden. Vasatiden, 2d ed (Stockholm: Natur
och Kultur, 1957).  Not so good as Schueck, but more up-to-date.

g. Lexikon der altnordischen Literatur, by Ru8dolf Simek and
Hermann Palsson. Kroeners Taschenausgabe 490 (Stuttgart: Kroener,
1987).  Good for its size; good desk reference; some bibliography.
Might be all right for first port of call. Much like Simek's
Lexikon der germanischen Mythologie in the same series.

3. Survey:

a. Stefan Sonderegger, "Ueberlieferungsgeschichte der
fruehgermanischen und altnordischen Literatur," Geschichte der
Textueberlieferung der antiken und mittelalterlichen Literatur 2
(Zurich: Atlantis, 1964), 730-761.

b. See Marchand's "First 100 Icelandic Manuscripts," and "Corpus of
Old Icelandic Literature," in the Medtextl archives.

4. Encyclopedia:

a. Kulturhistoriskt Lexikon foer Nordisk Medelalder (title in
Danish, Swedish or Norwegian, NB), 22 vols, 1956-.  To use it you
need to be able to read 5 languages (Danish, Swedish, Landsmal,
Riksmal, Nynorsk, general Scandahoovian). Not a bad first port of
call. I once spoke with Dag Stroembaeck, who was on their
committee, and they were (1976 or so) considering an English
translation and an attempt to bring it up to date, but nothing
seems to have come of this.

5. Series:

a. The series of books published in Nordisk Kultur, usually cited
separately, is outstanding, with works on paleography, literature,
coins, calendar, etc.; over 30 volumes.

b. Most people think that the editions in the Islenzk Fornrit
(Reykjavik: Hidh Islenska Fornritafelag, 1933-) are the best, but
this depends on taste and how familiar you may have been with some
of the authors.

c. The whole series of books published by G. Jonsson (Gudni Jonsson
bjo til prentunar), mostly Old Norse works in Modern Icelandic, is
good for just reading through and for the notes and because it is
cheap (there are over 50 volumes).

d. The Altnordische Sagabibliothek, 18 vols. (Halle, 1892-1929)

e. The Samfund til Udgivelse af gammel nordisk Litteratur, SUGNL.
I keep a training set for scanning from this series, since it has
just about everything.

f. Even Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powell's Corpus Poeticum
Boreale, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1883) and their Origines
Islandicae, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1905) are worth looking at,
so if you find them in an old bookstore, do not spurn them.

g. The Bibliotheca Arnamagnaeana is also good.  Mostly monographs.
It is well to consult the Bulletin of the Arnamagnaean Institute
and Dictionary, available from the Arnamagnaean Institute in
Copenhagen. Bulletin 22 (1998-99).

h. The Fiske Icelandic collection publishes Islandica, with some
good editions and bibliographies, Cornell University press.

6. Translations. Almost everything is translated and available
somewhere, often on the net:

a. An excellent set of translations of Old Norse works into German
is the Thule collection (Jena: Diederich, 1912-30); 24 vols.
Reissued with some reworking, Duesseldorf: Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, 1963-.

b. There is now a one-volume translation of most of the sagas of
the Icelanders (49) into English: The Sagas of Icelanders: A
Selection, preface by Jane Smiley, introduction by Robert Kellog
(NY: Viking, 2000).

7. A good book on daily life: Karl Weinhold, Altnordisches Leben,
ed. Georg Siefert. Kroeners Taschenausgabe, 135 (Stuttgart:
Kroener, 1944).

8. Facsimiles:

a. Corpus Codicum Islandicorum medii aevi (Copenhagen, 1930-).

b. Corpus Codicum Norvegicorum medii aevi (Oslo, 1950-).

c. Islenzk handrit (Reykjavik, 1956-)

d. Manuscripta islandica (Copenhagen 1954-).

9. Paleography:

Paleografi, in Nordisk Kultur.

Hreinn Benediktsson, Early Icelandic Script (Reykjavik, 1965).

Lars Svansson, Nordisk paleografi (Lund: Studentlitteratur, n. d.

10. Latin:

a. Paul Lehmann, Skandinaviens Anteil an der lateinischen Literatur
und Wissenschaft des Mittlalters. Erstes Stueck, Sitzungsberichte
der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philos.-Hist.
Abteilung, 1936, Heft 2.

b. Paul Lehmann, Skandinaviens Anteil an der lateinischen Literatur
und Wissenschaft des Mittlalters. Zweites Stueck, Sitzungsberichte
der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philos.-Hist.
Abteilung, 1937, Heft 7.

c. Both of these are brought together in: Erforschung des
Mittelalters, asugewaehlte Abhandlungen und Aufsaetze von Paul
Lehmann, vol. 5 (Stuttgart Hiersemann, 1962), 275-429.  The
"Register" is quite useful.

11. Motif Index: Inger M. Boberg, Motif-Index of Early Icelandic
Literature. Bibliotheca Arnamagnaeana 27 (Copenhagen: Munksgaard,
1966). Useful. Incorporated, of course, in the 2d edition of Stith
Thompson, which has the advantage of being available on CD-ROM.

12. Science and Lore.  There is a great deal of `science' and
various types of lore in Old Norse.  A good anthology, with
discussion: Alfraedhi Islenzk, ed. Kristian Kaalund, 3 vols. SUGNL
(Copenhagen: Mo/ller, 1908-1918. A Table of Contents may be found
in the Medtextl archives.