- Norse Romance (Arthurian Archives 3-5). Vol. 1, The Tristan Legend; Vol. 2, Knights of the Round Table; Vol. 3, Hœrra Ivan (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 18, Number 2, January 2001
- pp. 188-190
- View Citation
- Additional Information
188 Reviews Kalinke, Marianne E. ed., Norse Romance (Arthurian Archives 3-5). Vol. 1, The Tristan Legend; Vol. 2, Knights of the Round Table; Vol. 3, Haerra Ivan. Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 1999; cloth; pp. x, 294, 329, 312; R R P £50, c.US$90 per volume; ISBN 0 85991 552 2/ 556 5/ 560 3. In these three volumes are assembled the complete set of medieval Scandinav language versions ofArthurian romances. As general editor, Marianne E. Kalinke has presided over a collaborative enterprise, incorporating some work previously published in a different form though in each case specially adapted for the present compilation. The texts are as follows Geitarlauf Janual, and Tristrams kvcedi (ed. and trans. Robert Cook), Tristrams saga ok Isondar (ed. and trans. Peter Jorgensen), Saga af Tristram ok Isodd (ed. Peter Jorgensen, trans. Joyce Hill), Mottuls saga, Ivens saga, and Erex saga (ed. and trans. Marianne E. Kalinke), Parcevals saga with Valvens pdttr (ed. Kirsten Wolf, trans. Helen Maclean), Skikkju rimur (ed. and trans. Matthew James Driscoll), and Hcerra Ivan (ed. and trans. Henrik Williams and Karin Palmgren). In each case, a brief summation of scholarship precedes text and English translation, which occupy facing pages. The appended notes are mostly textual, although Maclean and Driscoll include commentary on some literary aspects. Each volume is rounded out by a select bibliography. A diverse range of readers will be assisted by the appearance of these three volumes. Some of the texts, perhaps most notably the Tristrams kvcedi, art fine works of literature in their own right that will appeal to a wide readership. O n the more scholarlyfront,the present collection will help literary historians towards a fuller appreciation of the sagas of Icelanders. Aside from possible further investigation of detailed links between these sagas and the romances, there is increasing scholarly awareness that the demarcations that used to be posited between these literary kinds had no real status in thirteenth- and fourteenthcentury Icelandic culture. The compilation will also help to illustrate the development of Icelandic vernacular literature from the Middle Ages into the early m o d e m period. It shows, for instance, the accommodation of the narrative material into a series of genres, notably saga, pcettir, rimur, and ballad. Students of the Old Norwegian and Swedish languages will gain the opportunity to enhance their reading skills on texts that are not too dauntingly diplomatic. The partially normalised text of the early Swedish Hcerra Ivanfillsa distinct gap. For the social historian the constituent texts, and perhaps most dramatically Hcerra Ivan, axe cultural 'events', marking a step in the acculturation ofnorthern Reviews 189 nations to European values. Finally, the Scandinavian versions of the Arthurian romances, in their comparative brevity and pithiness, and with their strong emphasis upon the story-line, provide a conspectus of the matter of Britain that may prove convenient for non-Scandinavian specialists. It m a y help them, for instance, in envisaging the form early Continental realisations of the story matter may have taken at a stage prior to the full psychologising and other literary elaboration that w e see in the extant mainland European treatments. The translations will prove helpful for anyone w h o wants a quick utilitarian guide to the detailed content of the romances. Necessarily, they do not at all emulate the literary polish ofa G w y n Jones or the conversational fluency of Hermann Palsson and indeed on occasion greater control of idiom, style, and tone would have been welcome. One or two looked like penultimate drafts (Tristrams saga og Isondar in particular) and a final revision might have done wonders. Nevertheless the standard of accuracy is for the most part very high and I have noted only a few questionable points that warrant a mention in the rest of this paragraph. 1.21, second last paragraph: the change of clause and sentence demarcations from those found in the original obscures the narrative logic. 1.46/47: 'legal, Church-sanctioned ceremony' is stylistically incongruous and jumbles the logic of Togligum hjiiskap ok rettri vigslu'. 1.48/49, third sentence in ch. 16: 'mali' means 'language', not 'case'. 1.95, third last paragraph: the heavy repetition of 'hand...