Sexual Themes and the Heroic Past in <i>Gísla saga</i>

David Clark

in Gender, Violence, and the Past in Edda and Saga

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654307
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742071 | DOI:
Sexual Themes and the Heroic Past in Gísla saga

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As a means of transition from the analysis of primarily Eddaic material to the textual dynamic of the sagas, this chapter takes a single saga as the basis for an analysis of the relationship between Edda and saga, and the use of the former by one saga author in connection with the dynamic he explores. In this dynamic, as we shall see, familial (and particularly sibling) relationships are pitted against (and violently implicated in) sexual ones. Of all the family sagas, Gísla saga makes most striking use of Eddaic motifs, particularly regarding the symbolic role of the Eddaic heroine Guðrún Giúkadóttir to represent the old way of vengeance. In Gísla saga this use of and relation to the past is bound up with the network of sexual themes which runs through the text, and the discussion focuses particularly on the concepts of níð, or the imputation of stigmatized effeminacy, and phallic aggression.

Keywords: Edda; saga; motifs; vengeance; sex; níð; effeminacy; phallic aggression

Chapter.  10802 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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