Friday Friyay: 'Emotions in Old Norse Literature' by Sif Rikhardsdottir
Authors throughout history have relied on the emotional make-up of their readers and audiences to make sense of the behaviours and actions of fictive characters. But how can a narrative voice contained in a text evoke feelings that are ultimately never real or actual, but a figment of a text, a fictive reality created out of words? How does one reconcile interiority - a presumed modern conceptualisation - with medieval emotionality? The volume seeks to address these questions. It positions itself within the larger context of the history of emotion, offering a novel approach to the study of literary representations of emotionality and its staging through voice, performativity and narrative manipulation, probing how emotions are encoded in texts.
The author argues that the deceptively laconic portrayal of emotion in the Icelandic sagas and other literature reveals an emotive script that favours reticence over expressivity and exposes a narrative convention of emotional subterfuge through narrative silences and the masking of emotion. Focusing on the ambivalent borders between prose and poetic language, she suggests that poetic vocalisation may provide a literary space within which emotive interiority can be expressed. The volume considers a wide range of Old Norse materials - from translated romances through Eddic poetry and Islendingasogur (sagas of Icelanders) to indigenous romance. Sif Rikhardsdottir is Associate Professor and former Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland.
Book Beginnings is at home on Rose City Reader, hosted by Gilion Dumas, and Friday 56 at Freda's Voice, hosted by Freda. I'll also be joining the Book Blog Hop, hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.
It is a truism that the medieval Icelandic saga avoids emotive or subjective positioning, preferring an objective narrative style that favours subtle situational or behavioural hints over explicit verbalisation or gestural behaviour when it comes to emotion.' p.1
Great opening line! You can immediately get a hit of where Rikhardsdottir is going with this book and I love it when a book starts with a takedown.
'From 'Literary Identities and Emotive Scripts'
The romances thus introduced a topos of emotive behaviour that was integrated into the cultural system, establishing novel emotive literary identities that may have contained radically different sets of normative behaviour than the previously staged male and female identities.' p.56
I love the fact that literature does indeed affect identities and cultural conceptions. It is why representation matters so much, on all levels. Whether it is seeing healthy communication, men emoting, women leading, POC in the main role, it can all change what we consider the norm. I haven't actually reached this far into the book yet, but I'm intrigued to get there!
Another week with a great question suggested by Elizabeth over at Silver's Reviews:
Do you tend to stay with favourite authors and genres or do you try to branch out?
I really waver between these two "extremes" and usually I'm somewhere in between. How's that for a non-answer?
For a while I tended to stay very strongly with Literary Fiction, the kinds of books that were winning awards or were favoured to win awards, and the Classics. Maybe it was because I had started an English Literature degree and those were the books I had to read for my course, maybe it was because I can be a bit pretentious sometimes. But the lovely thing about this great blogosphere of ours is that I discovered NetGalley and say all kinds of books praised by other bloggers that I wouldn't otherwise have encountered. So generally I read quite widely and am willing to give almost anything a go! I will happily give almost any High Fantasy book a go, though. I'm a little bit more discerning with Sci-Fi, but also adore it. I do have a few authors from whom I'll read anything, like Monica Byrne and Aliya Whiteley for Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction; Helen Fields for Detective novels; and Katherine Arden, Kirsty Logan, Daisy Johnson and Zoe Gilbert for Fantasy/Folklore.
So that's me for today! What are you reading?