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  • Titill er á ensku Places, Kings, and Poetry: The Shaping of Breta sögur for the Norse Corpus
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    This study examines the whole of the Hauksbók Breta sögur, including Merlínusspá as contentextually part of the same text, and examines how that text has been adapted for a Norse literary milieu and a Norse audience from an intensely topical and British source, written in Latin. While work has been done on the sources and transmission of Breta sögur, there remains little scholarship on how that transmission from Latin sources have resulted in a distinctly Norse text. Thus Breta sögur will not only be looked at relative to itself and its sources, but also in relation to works of the Old Norse corpus to show how it can fit within than corpus, despite its peripheral status as a translation. There is not nearly enough space here to attempt to fit Breta sögur into the full chronological and inter-textual literary history of Old Norse, nor are the questions of source and transmission sufficiently answered to be assured of any conclusions derived from such an analysis. However, by speaking in terms of genre and common, distinctive characteristics of Norse literature, it is hoped that Breta sögur can be shown to have developed by the early fourteenth century into a text that relates in form, detail, and character to the greater body of Old Norse literature.
    Three chapters will examine three of the most important changes made to the text of the Historia which adapt it into the Hauksbók Breta sögur, while a fourth will make a determined effort to contextualize these changes. Chapter One will examine geography and genealogy, the essential core of Geoffrey's Historia and likewise the most important aspect of Breta sögur. Chapter Two will examine religion in Breta sögur, both the literary use of Norse gods and pre-Christian ideas, as welle as the ecclesiastical qualities of the text, which are more prevelant than in the Historia. Chapter Three will examine the prosimetrical form of Breta sögur and Merlínusspá in Hauksbók, and its significance for the work as a whole, and the characteristics discussed in the previous chapters. Chapter Four will compare Breta sögur with the texts of the Norse corpus which share important characteristics with it: Ynglinga saga in Heimskringla, the origin legends at the beginning of Orkneyinga saga and the Historia Norwegie, and the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus.
    While this is an ambitious selection of topics, taken together as a whole they will suggest the most apparent and physical changes to Breta sögur in its adaptation into a Norse text. Likewise, though far from exhaustive in examining the ways in which Breta sögur is different from the many redactions of Geoffrey's Historia, these examinations aim to go some way towards showing, by example, exactly how a work of Latin historiography can be made into Norse historiography, and what the implications are of that change.

  • 6.9.2012

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