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11. Late Prose Fiction (lygisögur)

Matthew Driscoll

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place Northern Europe » Scandinavia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235026.2004.00014.x


By ‘late prose fiction’ is meant the group of sagas composed in Iceland from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries onwards which take place in an exotic (non-Scandinavian), vaguely chivalric milieu, and are characterized by an extensive use of foreign motifs and a strong supernatural or fabulous element. They are thus to be distinguished from, on the one hand, the translations of predominantly French courtly romances, generally known as riddarasögur (‘tales of knights’), which were produced in Norway in the course of the thirteenth century and in imitation of which these younger Icelandic sagas are generally regarded as having been written (see chapter 21 ), and, on the other, the fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda , or mythical-heroic sagas, which, although written down at about the same time as the sagas here under discussion, have at least some foundation in older heroic tradition, and take place in Scandinavia in the period before the settlement of Iceland (see chapter 25 ). The sagas in this group are, like the translated romances, most commonly referred to as riddarasögur , usually with a qualifying adjective such as ‘indigenous’ (for example, Kalinke 1985 ) or ‘original’ ( Halvorsen 1969 ; van Nahl 1981 ). Other names have sometimes been used, one of the more persistent of which has been lygisögur , literally ‘lie-sagas’, but often rendered into English as ‘lying ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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