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18. The Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse and Old Icelandic Literature

Andrew Wawn

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place Northern Europe » Scandinavia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235026.2004.00021.x


Undrast enn Europear Frodir visindi Fedra vorra. (Finnur Magnússon 1811) Först den nye kamp; så de gamle kæmpeviser. (Sven Grundtvig 1848) The reception of old northern literature in post-medieval Europe could not begin in earnest until there were published texts to receive and react to; and such volumes were not available in significant numbers until the second half of the seventeenth century. A sixteenth-century trickle of editions and translations grew into a seventeenth-and early eighteenth-century canon-forming and subject-defining stream, accompanied by discursive works of cultural contextualization and philological reference. These volumes helped to determine which texts were accessed, by whom, and in what way; in turn, their content and even their appearance were determined to a significant extent by aesthetic and political priorities at the time of publication. The process whereby old northern texts moved from script to more widely accessible print often had a political dimension. Diplomatic tensions between Denmark and Sweden encouraged exploration of the literary links that each country could establish with an heroic Gothic past. Visiting Icelandic scholars often assisted in this work by the collection and transcription of early manuscripts. The influence of the published volumes was not confined to the region or age in which they were published. Many enjoyed a shelf ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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