Grettir in Sheffield: Rewriting Icelandic saga as a contemporary novel

Williams, Tony (2019) Grettir in Sheffield: Rewriting Icelandic saga as a contemporary novel. TEXT. ISSN 1327-9556 (In Press)

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Through engaging closely with Grettis saga I was able to understand how saga style and structure relate to each other and to the historical context of their setting. Learning from saga writers cannot be a case of cherrypicking certain techniques and effects. Rather, it involves understanding how saga narrative, style, structure and context combine to produce a mature literary work. Meanwhile, rewriting the saga into a contemporary setting meant finding narrative equivalents for saga events, and re-imagining their consequences to make sense in a contemporary world. In turn this meant reflecting on societal values and structures in the two contexts and on how these shape events, lives and stories: in particular, the role of violence, the notion of the monstrous, and the treatment of gender and sexual violence. Though these specific lessons are peculiar to the rewriting of this saga, the project provides one model for writer-researchers interested in engaging with medieval literature. It shows that it is possible to move beyond the appropriation of tropes, setting and materials into an existing modern form (a process which treats sources as inert and disregards the writerly techniques and practices which produce them). Engaging respectfully and in detail with medieval writers and their practice means looking beyond the exotic Other of distant historical settings and materials, and instead seeking to learn how medieval styles, structures and processes can be used to extend, diversify and invigorate writing in our own time.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: novel, saga, rewriting, realism, violence
Subjects: Q200 Comparative Literary studies
W800 Imaginative Writing
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2019 16:52
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2019 03:30

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