The 43 smaller triangles, that are formed by the intersections of the 9 major ones, represent the "Cosmic Uterus", the Universe. This Yantra is considered one of the most powerful Symbols in absolute and has enclosed within it the meaning of harmonious birth and coexistence of male and female duality, evil and good, black and white, but this duality is dispersed and integrated into the biggest unequal completeness of the universe. It is composed of 9 triangles inscribed in a circle whose center is clearly represented.
Five triangles are oriented downward and the remaining four upwards. It is often represented with one or two crowns of stylized Lotus petals, respectively formed by eight and sixteen petals. The nine triangles form another 43 smaller triangles. It belongs to the category of YANTRA, a Sanskrit word that has the meaning of "medium", "instrument to favor it" , which are all inserted in a wider category: the Mandala.
We can trace the oldest Sri Yantra in southern India inside the Vidyashankara temple in Sringeri in the state of Karnataka, dated about years. It is still largely used today in India, China and Tibet as a symbol of good fortune: it promotes abundance, helps to circumvent and overcome obstacles in achieving desires, is a catalyst for peace and harmony and also promotes material and spiritual growth. Famous for being one of the most popular symbols of ancient Egypt with the meaning of Life and Eternity, was often used combined with two other symbols in the maxim: "Life, Prosperity, and Health", Ankh - Wedja - Seneb.
The highest part, formed by one of the most recurring figures of Sacred Geometry is the Circular section. This figure is rested and joined on the horizontal arm of the Tao symbolizing the material world where mankind exist. The union of these two previous parts continue on the vertical arm of T. This last element is "the product of the Divine force that enlivens the matters" Giovanni Grasso and it supports the above two entities. The exact proportions of Tao are very important: the union of the two ends of the horizontal axis and the tip at the bottom of the vertical axis, make exactly an Equilateral Triangle.
The triangle has been for ages an important symbol for mankind, Like the Trinity of Reality or the Link between Men with the Divine.
As all the sacred geometries, even The Ankh key can be easily found in Nature , both in the micro and in the macro. A curious example, very close to us, is visible in the " Willis's Polygon or Circle". It is an arterial anastomosis system placed at the base of our skull and is formed by the encounter of some big arteries that closely remind the Ankh Key. Another example in nature is visible in the images of the Terrestrial magnetic field deformed by the solar wind: the field lines draw a very close figure to the Ankh's representation.
Composed by two main elements, the circle and The Tao , Ankh has a relatively simple geometric construction, but its own proportions are very precise , and each dimension is created in relation to the others ones. The horizontal arm of the Key is drawn at a precise height: it is the base of an Equilateral triangle with the main vertex oriented downwards and coincident with the lower edge of the golden rectangle.
Above this horizontal axis of the Ankh, we finally find the circular part that conforms its diameter to be completely inscribed in the same rectangle. In this way the circumference becomes lightly elliptical and not perfectly rounded. Another very important thing is the thickness of the Two "arms" of the Tao: it isn't the same throughout their length but becomes bigger by moving away from the center of the Key, which is located at the meeting point between the circumference and The T.
The oldest traces of representations or Artifacts with the shape of the Ankh date back to predynastic Egypt, about years ago. We find it depicted in many Egyptian tombs, not only Pharaohs's ones. Ankh was given in gift by different gods to the with the meaning of Eternal Life. In many scriptures and painted representations, this symbol was also used as a real amulet and instrument, held in the hand with the fingers inside the circle. His traces go through history even in the Roman culture where he was represented and used as a symbol of Fertility.
It remains a symbol known and widely spread today in many Modern and diverse cultures. We also know about an ancient practical use : Ankh was crafted with a mirror in the upper circle, and the most famous one was found in Tutankhamon's tomb. In the Egyptian culture, life on earth was considered the Mirror of the World Beyond, and the mirror itself was considered an object capable of hiding mystical meanings. For example during the Lantern Festival in Honor of Neith goddess, oil lanterns were lit up all night creating the mirror image of the Heavens on Earth, by reflecting the stars of the sky.
Sacred Geometry We all try to understand the Unity that permeates the Life. Flower of Life. Meaning Is the Symbol of the "Beginning", of what is life and what is everything.
Geometry It is made up of a central Sphere whose center coincides with the intersection of six spheres built around it. History It is one of the ancient symbols shared by different and distant cultures, through different times and places. Meaning It encloses within it various symbolisms, which are all linked to the concept of Cosmic Creation. Geometry The graphic shapes of the Tree of Life are many and heterogeneous , but the stylization of each type of representation leads, at its maximum simplification, to the formation of two triangles with center-oriented tips.
History It is a very ancient symbol , Sharing its origins with the symbol of "Flower of Life", and it is spread all over the world through different cultures and eras. Meaning It represents the will, the manifestation of the Divinity or its will within the issues that belong to our World. Geometry Formed by the representation of 13 spheres whose centers are joined and linked by precise lines. History An ancient symbol that founders its origins in the symbol of the "Fruit of Life" and it is connected to the meaning of symbol of "Tree of Life" in which the Metatron Archangel and his counterpart, the Sandalphon Archangel, are holding the symbol of the Tree respectively from the top and from the base.
Meaning Among some of the most famous and used symbols is the symbolic representation of two different counterparts: "Yin" the black and "Yang" the white. Geometry It is drawn from a circumference with a sinuous line inside. History Symbol dating back to the ancient Chinese philosophy, probably born from the observation of the day and night cycle. Meaning They are geometrically sinuous and harmonious figures that with their precise and particular shapes transmit serenity and positivity.
Geometry Symbol constructed from the central intersection of numerous arc , developed clockwise and anticlockwise. History They are symbols of precise geometries that have long been used in radiesthesia and radionic disciplines. Message board FAQ! Read me! The Hive Queen full cover! RP advertisement thread credit cookies. Project Updates and some game design tips. Posted on: Mar 30, Last reply on: Mar 30, Continuing the thank you thread in seperate posts because idk how else to Eliza, Toffee, Gulfstream, Sanetra, and Angel.
Posted on: Mar 27, Last reply on: Mar 27, It's time to say goodbye. Posted on: Mar 12, Last reply on: Mar 27, Posted on: Mar 26, Last reply on: Mar 27, The style is natural and refined at the same time, endowed with passion and yet restrained. One of the characteristics of this style is a clarity which is reminiscent of the mountains of Iceland on a bright day. A marvellous skill is displayed by the better authors in knowing what to say and when to say it, and when to make the reader or listener deduce things for himself.
In this respect the reader is shown much trust and respect by the writer. Finally, we can truly say that here we have prose in its purity, devoid of anything appertaining to poetry, as the spoken language always is. The spoken language with its rhythm and vividness is an essential factor in the creation of this style, while the diction is condensed and purified of empty words according to the dictates of art.
In this manner the diction of the sagas displays to every reader who understands their language an enchanting beauty, which is unique and cannot be recreated, being the fruits of a particular society and period, which was once and will never come again. This statement is similar to those that can often be heard in club-conversation, when people amuse themselves by making things look oblique in order to see them from a new angle. The sagas, it is true, take place in a farming society and tell nothing of lords and ladies in their castles.
It is easy to pick out descriptions of fights which are nothing but sheer barbarism — I may mention The Value of the Icelandic Sagas 13 the stories about Vlga-Styr as an example — but on the whole human nature is disciplined and conforms to the ideal of honour, and it is precisely a characteristic of civilization that human conduct is disciplined by a moral code. In the sagas, revenge, which belongs in the same complex of ideas, often seems to be due to obligation rather than to innate vengefulness.
Honour is the root of heroism, and honour was no more pronounced among the courtly knights than it was among these farmers. So delicate and sensitive are the stories of the old Icelandic idea of honour that they remind us of the descriptions of love in later literature. It is not necessary to explain to the present audience that the complex of ideas that centred round the concept of honour also had its darker side in this early society. Of all this the sagas give a picture and, of course, in such a way that in one saga a certain aspect is more noticeable than in another — a picture which is comprehensive and inspired, where everything is understood from within even though it is described from without.
And certainly something would be lacking in the picture of human life they present, if the current ideas of ethics were not the main strand, or indeed the vital nerve, of their presentation. The sagas, of course, differ in quality, as is evident if they are carefully read. But in most cases we can notice, directly or indirectly, that whatever the subject-matter of a saga is, it is related with a certain ethical equipoise. Of all these it is perhaps the idea of drengskapr — fair play — which is most worthy of discussion.
It is an Icelandic and Northern democratic parallel to chivalry, unassuming, strong and true — an ideal which has exerted a great influence on Icelanders of all times. The heroism of the sagas originates in a certain conception of greatness which values certain things above life itself. But, even so, it is not in the clouds, it is in a peculiar way blended with realism. So that even here we can discern a harmony of contrasts. Very few of the sagas, I think, are composed on the basis of a preconceived idea.
And because these ideas are only to a very slight extent of foreign origin, they differ from those of the Hebrew- Hellenist-Roman civilization and consequently people often fail to realize that there are thoughts of a philosophical kind in the sagas at all.
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It is so easy to find what is common and known everywhere that people are apt to miss what is different. And to this we may add the fact that the authors of the sagas very seldom draw any moral conclusion from their stories. And since this The Value of the Icelandic Sagas 15 idea is based on experience, it represents something more than a transient conception.
Before I leave this subject, I want to mention briefly one fact. In many of the sagas there is apparent a strong belief in fate. But this belief is derived from the impact made by life itself rather than from rational thought. The old Icelandic idea of fate implies influence on events, rather than on the human will and the human mind. The early Icelanders thus believed in the power of man, much in the same way as the Stoics did. Fate was often severe. It was hard to suffer sorrow, hard to have to die at a certain moment.
But fate was not actively cruel. There was no Goddess of Destiny who would rejoice at the humiliations of man. To the early Icelanders fate could be something more than a burden, it could also be a challenge to the free mind not to give up and not to fail to accept with courage whatever falls to one's lot. This did not imply arrogance or self-deception: on the contrary, realism and a courageous acceptance of adversity are its chief characteristics. This faith in human freedom against fate made life an art, human behaviour was subject to certain aesthetic laws. This is most evident in the stories of how people accepted death.
In this manner the moment of death became the most glorious moment in life, when man was exalted above his own fate, above life and death. X I have now tried to expound the value of the Icelandic sagas from various points of view, but this subject is so 16 Saga-Book of the Viking Society vast that in a single lecture I can do no more than merely touch on some of the most important points. I have tried to describe the wide human range of the sagas, their presentation in their own independent way of a picture of human life and human fate, their peculiar vision and methods.
Art is diverse, and you may sometimes feel as if you were entering a new world when you go from one sphere of art to another, or even from one artist to another. It is rewarding to acquaint oneself with the various kinds of art: a wider outlook, a deeper understanding, is gained. No branch of literature is superfluous if it has reached any kind of perfection in its own class.
This is like many different instruments in a mighty orchestra, where all the diversity is harmonized in a great symphony. It is composed on the themes of human happiness and suffering, human hopes and despair, the eternal and inextinguishable longings of the human heart. And I like to think that this symphony is played to the glory of eternity, as a holy gift, a divine offering. Lewis says that if you want to judge anything, from a cathedral to a hencoop, the first thing is to know what it is. It is when confronted by a new form that we realize the truth of this half-forgotten truism. I remember, thirty or forty years ago, idly turning the pages of Orkneyinga saga to find out where the story began.
Later, when I read a few sagas in English, I found that I had been looking for the wrong sort of story. These were different stories, with rules of their own; and, although some made complex and beautiful wholes, their form was not what I should have expected in epic or novel. My first crude error arose from not knowing what a saga was — and at what stage can one be quite sure that one has found this out?
All of us must at least have observed others judging amiss because they were not looking for the excellences possible in this form and proper to it. There is one excellence that sagas possess as a class. They all tell a story well enough to make even poor stuff tolerably lively. And the reason was obvious. The sagas, like our ballads, have the art of casting their story into scenes presented with dramatic economy.
This is how they galvanize even the stalest trollery into some semblance of entertainment; this is how they give life to c 18 Saga-Book of the Viking Society the actions of men. And this they can all do. It is part of their traditional stock-in-trade. Not so with their handling of the whole. They have their triumphs of form — the enigmatic circle of Audunar pattr , the imperturbable line of Hrafnkels saga, to take two famous small examples — and there are enough examples, great and small, to show what thirteenth- century writers could do, even if we had not guessed it from the intelligence shown in their work.
Such excellence, of course, is always rare, yet one could imagine a northern Aristotle deducing from the most successful sagas the principles that should govern the genre. Or could one? He would have faced one perhaps insuperable difficulty. The sagas were not free to follow a purely artistic line of development. They were conceived as history, and their nature is governed by this fact.
Let there be no misunderstanding. I do not even ask how authentic their history is; I do not deny that it is history of a most personal kind; I am happy to indulge Nordal by calling the sagas historical novels in order to emphasise their considerable measure of imaginative freedom and put the home-grown fundamentalists in their place.
But for anyone who tries to judge the sagas as literary narratives the obvious thing is that they were conceived and told as though they were histories, records of fact as well as artistic creations; it is as histories that they have been accepted; and one may add that their authors, unlike many historical novelists, are generally ready to admit gaps in the record and conflicts in tradition, and to relate their own work to a larger body of genealogical and historical belief.
It is in the form of history that they choose to tell their more substantial stories.
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This is one secret of their strength. Hence, in the sagas, as in life, persons are real in the impact of their acts and passions, often enigmatic in what lies behind; so that to explore the feelings of Kjartan for Guftrun in the light of the available evidence is like an enquiry about real people rather than characters in fiction, and curiously enough the lifelikeness of the feelings springs partly from our uncertainty about them. The saga canvas, too, is historical, giving one habitually the sense of a society and a time-span extending beyond the main events and characters, so that at their best these gain in dignity from their subordination to the larger movement of life.
Unlike the romances, which characteristically seek intensity by focussing on individual passion, the sagas seem unwilling even to narrow their theme to what we should think a manageable and shapely story. In their own way they are extremely concise and selective, but they seldom select a plot that Aristotle would have approved.
Hence there are many partial failures. In Ljdsvetninga saga, for example, the author seems to have had in mind a tale of the men of Ljosavatn, their dealings with powerful neighbours, the worth and destiny of some of their leaders — and his reward is a compliment from W. A plot 20 Saga-Book of the Viking Society dictated by an interest in the facts is cracked clean across by the emergence, in the first half, of a powerful character and a situation well worth shaping into a whole. This is where an author with a classical sense of form would have looked for his story.
But suppose that, instead of isolating a tractable situation, an author were to open his arms wide, take in a century or so of time and a host of persons and passions, and somehow contrive to fashion these into one great edifice? That would be something worth seeing! One would be first moved to admiration, then curious to account for the miracle. And in the general effect of the whole there would be something to distinguish it from art not tied to facts.
The march of events, seeming to be given in history, would be unlike the moulded plot that implies a human director. All this would appear in part the work of nature as well as art, perhaps with some marks of chance and unpruned profusion in it. Something like this may happen at times in the sagas. But each of the others triumphs in its own measure over formidable obstacles. Laxdcela saga covers nearly a century and a half, and the main situation does not begin to emerge until a third of the story is told. Yet each of these sagas — allowing perhaps for some dispensable things, as one should be ready to do with great and rich books — gives an impression of high imaginative unity.
Certainly this is what one feels in putting the book down. As for Egla — the first saga I read in the original — I remember with what growing excitement I spelt my way through the second-last page, for of course the last few words are always as it were postultimate, not so much ending the story as resuming the course of life. The incident was stale enough.
The parson struck it one-handed with the hammer of an axe, and where the blow fell the skull whitened, but it did not break; and from this you may know that, when hide and hair went with it, it had not much to fear from the blows of common men. It was not the skull that enthralled me, but the dawning certainty that the author knew what he was doing with it. In the close of Njala unity is confirmed with deeper power. The reconciliation of Flosi and Kari is the end to which all that long struggle has been making, the solution of some unformulated problem; and when the sea takes Flosi we are left in awe, as though the embers 22 Saga-Book of the Viking Society of the fire had been quenched at last.
When we look back over the saga it seems massive and complete — even Vigfusson, who thought it a loose compilation, perceives a grand moral unity in it — and when we analyze it we find on every page evidence of precise shaping and subtle linking, so that its planned crescendos and calculated echoes and pointed crises might be even too formal if the work were not mighty enough to justify such supports. There is indeed something almost geometrical about much of it, from which some readers may turn with relief to the effortless mastery of Egils saga or the simpler line of Laxdcela.
Sveinsson quotes with approval the verdict of the Swedish writer A. Baath: Such is this author's command of his materials that he may be said to have had the last line in mind when he wrote the first. Sveinsson, in his monumental edition, plants himself so massively on both sides of the critical fence that simple readers may well feel bewildered. On the one hand he gives the highest general praise to the saga's architecture; on the other, he does not in this preface trace any real narrative unity, and he admits flaws considerable enough to give one pause.
But really, he has only himself to blame, for the first thing the saga does on examination is to fall apart. No wonder that it was once thought a compilation, or that summarizers give us a list of headings, not a narrative argument. Sveinsson, A Njalsbud , All this is about three-fourths the length of the remainder and fills 81 out of chapters. The second story commonly divided into two is of the feuds that lead to the burning of Njall, the consequent conflict, and final reconciliation. It seems, first, that here are two stories, not one; and secondly, that the author lets his story sleep while he expatiates in history.
Sveinsson sets out the four main counts in this charge and admits a partial agreement with them. One is the excessive and sometimes repetitive use of genealogies, partly justified by their ceremonial effect in reading. This surprised me. The genealogies are certainly lavish, but I had not felt them as clogs and had found them most useful in underlining new characters, especially when these are brought in a little before they begin to take an active part.
This author admittedly excels in the art of introducing characters, and my untutored impression had been that he distributed the limelight in all its forms with almost mathematical precision. Here, at the dramatic suit for Hoskuldr 2 A Njdlsbud, 37 - 8. The South and East are already in our minds; now two chiefs from North and South are brought in to a roll of drums, and each is seen in relation to the whole country. GuSmundr whose introduction is the most resplendent in the saga is the ancestor of the Sturlungs and the Oddaverjar, the Hvammverjar and the Fljotamenn, indeed of all the most outstanding Icelanders; Snorri is the wisest of all Icelanders, of those that had not second sight.
If it needs a scholar to pick holes, they must surely be very little ones. Then there are the legal technicalities, which are not always right, and which Einar Olafur admits to be excessive. Perhaps my young days at the bar disable my judgment, but again my impression is different. How could anyone deny and I am afraid Baath does the superbly dramatic use of legal formulae in the last great suit, where the dry battle of forms reins in the passions of men, obscures the merits, and leads to the battle of arms?
If we are to have this scene, we must also have a graduated course of legal instruction earlier in the saga; and surely we must admire the judgment with which this material is gradually fed into a long succession of suits, partly for mounting tension, and partly I think because the concept of legal justice is one strand in the pattern of ideas. Neither of these charges is of much importance in itself, and I am not concerned to measure the quantity of genealogical or procedural detail that the average reader can tolerate.
But I wonder if you will agree with me that, at every moment of such an enquiry, there is one principle that it is quite imperative to remember? A novelist would feel no need to send Hrutr to Norway; the spell could have been brought in by reference and might even have been more effective in the background.
But this is not saga practice. Sagas prefer to deal with whole episodes, not pieces or aspects or reflections of them. The account will be short, but round and whole. Hence every saga is likely to contain elements that a novelist might reject as irrelevant; we may expect to find that each part, though it touches some main action, is not fully absorbed in it.
Each part must seem to exist and be interesting in its own right, not simply as a term in some larger argument; and to say, for example, that the story of Viga-Hrappr is a partial digression, is surely a critical error. If we grant this principle of the integrity of episodes with its corollary of their partial independence of the main theme, we must also grant the special need of an art to bring out the main structure.
The eighteen-chapter prologue illustrates this well. Of course these chapters are rich in further incidents and implications, and of course Hrutr plays an important part and in certain ways foreshadows Gunnarr; but we know that this is the bold outline the author intended, for he has gone out of his way to make it clear. Especially in the first and last chapters. Now the story turns to the west. Chapter 18 drives the nail home. Einar Olafur treats chapter 18 as the beginning of the Unnr-Gunnarr story, but this begins in chapter 21 with a reference to the information given in All the prologue prepares for Gunnarr, but his story cannot begin until he has been introduced.
If, in this small instance, one can demonstrate the author's structural intention, it may be possible to do so elsewhere, though the growing complexity of the saga is likely to make the task more difficult and the conclusions more debatable. I turn, then, to the break between Parts I and II.
In Part I Gunnarr is the leading figure; Njall is his constant counsellor and helper, and his sons perform one momentous action and help to avenge Gunnarr. Still, Gunnarr is the protagonist, and with his death we seem to begin a new story leading circuitously to the burning. This is of s' course not the fact, and Einar Olafur has summarised the essential connexions. Even Baath, who holds a brief for the unity of the saga, finds that, despite many connecting filaments, it comes 4 Einar Sveinsson, Um Njdlu , 35, , A competent author does not need 81 chapters just over half the total number in the longest of the Islendingasogur to give such impressions; it is part of his competence to give them within the limits of the chosen action.
Gordon says that the only real connexion between the two parts is the personality of Njall 6 — a good reason for not closing the book, but no reason for admiring its architecture. Reading on, we note that the prologue really extends to chapter But all these things are preliminaries, pointing in complex ways to later events but as yet initiating no main conflict.
Then two memorable chapters 34, 35 are placed together, one ending the preliminaries, the other beginning a conflict traceable to the last page. The wedding is thronged. Along with the bride, Hallgerftr, is her father Hoskuldr, her uncle Hrutr, her brothers, and her fourteen-year-old daughter TorgerSr, a beauty like her mother. Gunnarr sits in the middle of one bench. On the other are Njall with his sons, and the sons of Torir of Holt with their father.
Gunnarr is sitting between the house of Njall and its inveterate enemies to be. We are told that it is not said just how men sat on the bench with Hoskuldr and Hrutr; but this author seems fully informed about what it suits him to know. He wishes, I think, to leave this other bench in shadow. Then a dramatic thing happens. Trainn has been staring at young Torgerftr.
His wife rebukes him in two stinging lines; he rises in rage, takes witness that he divorces her, and has her sent away. This passage might be reread by those who blame Njall for what follows. Immediately after this chapter 35 comes another feast with another dramatic incident, the quarrel between Bergpora and Hallgerftr that begins the main action. Surely all this is plain enough? We note that he is at once closely connected with Hallgerftr, who will soon call on him to show himself a real son-in-law chapter 41 , and our unfavourable first impression of his character makes it natural to suspect that he may become her ally.
Their actions at the two feasts — he sending his wife away, she forcing her husband to take her home — are significantly alike. These chapters have been patterned to make us keep our eye on Trainn and associate him with Hallgerftr the known cause of evil as well as with his kinsmanGunnarr. Blood has been shed on both sides before now and the wrong made good between the two friends by peaceful settlement. Njall settles at once with Gunnarr, saying that his sons will respect the peace once made.
But matters do not rest here. Sigmundr, to please HallgerSr, lampoons Njall and his sons, and the verses are repeated at Bergporshvoll. Bergpora eggs on her sons, who go out by night and kill Sigmundr and Skjoldr in the early morning. At these killings Hoskuldr Njalsson sits by, just as Trainn had done. It seems, indeed Njall asserts, that now a money settlement is out of the question; but Gunnarr asks for no compensation, and at last Njall himself offers to pay it. This is the last incident in this phase of the story, and we are told chapter 45 that the settlement was well kept ever after.
At this point four new characters are introduced and one realizes that something new is to begin. The incident seems to be closed, but its force is not spent. It is the killing of Tor Sr that divides the sons of Sigfuss and of Njall, and later on this is to be the fundamental division. This, therefore, is the essential connexion between Parts I and II. MorSr takes advantage of openings created by others, Njall seeks a way out of difficulties as they arise or are foreseen; but Hallgerc 5 r creates the situation to which the others contribute, makes and fosters division, and may be regarded as the first and continuing impulse behind the main sequence of events.
There are now two obvious questions to be asked. The first is, whether this connexion is made clear enough; for the intention of a book should be clear to intelligent readers as well as to its specialist editor, and the fact that so many readers have missed it is disquieting. The second question is, whether the main stream of acts and motives, once understood, has the sort of continuity and significance that artistic unity requires.
It is at least certain that the author has taken pains to make his readers see the essential connexion between the feud initiated by HallgerSr and the more complex feuds that lead to the burning. The act that commits Trainn to HallgerSr — his part in the killing of TorSr — is then given peculiar emphasis. Again, one of the tensest small scenes in the whole saga is the one where Bergpora eggs on her sons, and Njall, awakened by the ring of an axe, goes out to ask Skarphe'Sinn where they are going chapter Nor will anyone doubt that the motives involved are powerful enough for their work in a story of such majestic proportions.
Nor are events the less impressive or significant because they are long in coming to birth. When the time comes, the sequel is firmly controlled. In Iceland a point of surly pride grows to a serious difference; and in chapter 91, when the open clash comes, it is HallgerSr who first steps in to fan the flame and later drags up Sigmund's scurrilous taunts, so that her part in this deep-seated enmity is again impressed on our imagination. The death of Trainn confirms the division of parties which MorSr now uses for his advantage, and so leads relentlessly though indirectly to the burning.
I find this fully coherent and imaginatively effective. Events move at first as though uncertain of their direction and issue, yet the outlines are gradually seen to be bold and the impulsion steady. It is as though two groping tentacles reached out from the early part of the saga, touched, and slowly intertwined. But it is partly by its significance that a major theme justifies its place. But there is this essential difference between the two. Morftr is treated primarily as an instrument; his vices are such as to cut him off from other men, and his acts are in the nature of intrusions on the more normal human conflict.
Perhaps any other conscienceless knave would have served the purpose. But the bosom evil that spreads from Hallgerftr is of quite another nature, and it D 34 Saga-Book of the Viking Society derives its structural significance from a deep inner irony that is foreshadowed when Gunnarr sits in friendship between Njall and Trainn at his wedding. The two sons are very firmly and summarily distinguished chapters 59, 75 , and it is surely significant that the good one, Hogni, is declared out of the saga as soon as he has avenged his father, although when Gunnarr commended him to Njall we expected to hear more of him and although he is in fact mentioned later.
A seemingly small cause, the grudge of a socially slighted woman, is transmitted and transformed and combined in a complex pattern of causes until it has at last attained its end and disrupted a whole society in the process. It is a process that one can follow with unfaltering interest and contemplate with a sense of completeness. Sveinsson says that the Conversion is the one section that seems loose in reading, mainly because of a huddle of unorganized circumstances; that the author was probably using a written source without adapting it much; but the important consequences of the Conversion may have turned the scale and decided him to give a full account of it.
No doubt the author used a written source, but in the evidence for this there are one or two suggestions of careless transcription that may perhaps be questioned. But is not this detail relevant in the saga rather than in the source, and is not the earlier reference chap. In particular, I should suggest a doubt as to the carelessness imputed in note 5, p. The obvious reference is to the incident just mentioned, the receipt in Iceland of news that Norway had changed its king and faith.
But it is probably true that the news and the first missionary did arrive in the same year. The first missionary was the undistinguished Stefnir mentioned in Kristni saga and Olafs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta, but not in tslendingabok, Heimskringla, or any of the Islendinga sogur , and it would be an easy error to telescope him and Pangbrandr. The sense of the text seems so clear that I cannot help leaning to this explanation. The rest of the story is well told in summary style. The whole historical episode was to be deeply influential in the saga, but it is given only its natural prominence, without elaboration or dramatic heightening.
This is mentioned in Landndma, which he seems not to have known, and with a memorable little scene in Laxdcela chapter 41 , which he knew well; it is elaborated in the accounts in Kristni saga and Olafs saga Tryggvasonar en mesta. Our author knew it, then, from Laxdcela and would have been reminded of it in any fairly full account that he happened to be using. In some more positive ways one can trace his moulding of the materials. He is the first man Tangbrandr meets, and he comes forward with a generous offer to take the boycotted missionary under his protection. Hallr, as in other accounts, accompanies Tangbrandr on his journey west to the Alpingi, but Njala is careful to keep him in our minds by noting his kinsmen among the converts.
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Hallr was of course a leading figure in the Conversion — the man whom the Christians chose as their law-speaker and whose good heart and head may well have saved the day — and this is naturally brought out in the saga. But it adds what is inconsistent with Kristni saga in Hauksbok and uncorroborated elsewhere that Tangbrandr returned to Hallr before sailing to Norway. Clearly, everything has been done to make Hallr the frame as well as the centre of this episode — and not simply because the author was an easterner and well informed about the local magnates.
The Conversion is woven in with a skill to which, I think, full justice has not been done. It comes after the establishment of the Fifth Court — an historical error that was once thought evidence of interpolation. This view has now been discarded and we may take the text as it stands. The Conversion is introduced for compelling reasons at a moment of pause.
This is clearly the right, indeed the only place for it, and I imagine that the author deliberately juggled with history in order to give it that place. This is the first Christian miracle, and it would be easy to cite evidence that it would have looked less odd to thirteenth-century readers than it does to most of us.
It comes in naturally as a postscript to the Conversion, but critics have wondered why it should come in at all. The author was here faced with a problem, at first glance insoluble. As so often in this saga, one action was to sink into quietness, another connected action to stir and gather power. A meaningful pause was required — not a luncheon-break. Yet precisely at this point it was necessary to introduce six chapters on the conversion of Iceland!
How insert this wedge without splitting the narrative? The problem is solved with some ingenuity. An incident is introduced which seems a postscript to the Conversion but is in fact the end of the preceding story the feud after Trainn. Our sympathies are with Amundi, whose act is one of natural justice and sanctioned by God; yet in the form of the narrative he is the counterpart of the repulsive Lytingr, for both slayer and slain have advanced claims of dubious legal validity and contrary to legal settlements.
How effective this is each reader must judge for himself. The main narrative has renewed its course and we await what is to come. It cannot be an accident that his paganism is emphasised just after the Conversion and just before his malice hatches out. This is a pretty tall order for one short chapter! One might call it crude, but no one will deny that it is plain. This pagan evil is being deliberately set against the new light. This is surely a hint that the six-chapter foundation has not been laid for nothing.
But how? In Hoskuldr there is a distinctively Christian elevation, easily distinguishable for example from the pagan generosity of spirit shown in Ingimundr Torsteinsson of Vatzdcela saga; his death as clearly as that of Earl Magnus of Orkney is a Christian sacrifice — all the more unmistakable because his widow, Hildigunnr, is so darkly bent on the ancient debt of vengeance that he himself has put away.
Njall has adopted him to confirm the peace with Train's kinsmen, and his relation to Njall is significant. His saintly firmness at the burning makes his death, like Hoskuld's, a sacrifice, of which the brightness of his body after death is a token to thirteenth-century readers. This strand of saintliness may be contrasted both with the wickedness of Mor8r and with the tragic dilemma of Flosi, pinned as fast between opposed duties as SkarpheSinn between the gable and the fallen roof. Yet Flosi holds a service early on that Sunday morning when he and his men ride from Svinafell; it is with his responsibilities as a Christian man on his lips that he calls for fire; and these things we may believe.
He did what it was laid on him to do, carried out every consequent duty, held his judgment intact, and made his pilgrimage to Rome.