Scandinavian Studies
The Journal of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study since 1911.
Volume 81 № 1 pp. 47–72
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The Dream Women of Gísla saga

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Modern scholarship on Gísla saga Súrssonar has devoted a considerable amount of discussion to the women of Gísli’s dreams. The precise functions and natures of these women, however, have been somewhat obfuscated by their dual representation, namely in verse and in prose. Despite striking incongruities between these alternate accounts, modern scholars have tended to take the compiler’s reading of the poetry at face value. When the dream-stanzas are instead analyzed in isolation from the prose and with attention to their respective moods and religious functions, the juxtaposition of the two women suggests a dualistic afterlife strongly reminiscent of medieval Christian vision literature. The images by which this afterlife and its proximity are heralded, however, are traditional northwestern-European motifs. Thus a blend of Christian and vernacular elements appears to serve two motifs of warning: the death-warning follows a vernacular tradition, while the didactic message of what follows is presented in a Christian duality.

Cited articles in Scandinavian Studies:

  1. Lönnroth, Lars. Dreams in the Sagas. 2002
Area: Old Norse Old Norse Genre: Literature

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