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Society and Politics in Snorri…
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Society and Politics in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla

by Sverre Bagge

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Heimskringla is the best known and most important book of Old Norse kings' sagas. A medieval masterpiece, the collection was written by Snorri Sturluson in the first half of the thirteenth century. The sagas have been studied primarily as literary sources and chronicles of specific historical events, but Sverre Bagge, a noted historian, finds in Heimskringla something more: a brimming guidebook to the culture and politics of Icelandic society. What kind of observer was Snorri Sturluson, and how did he see the world he lived in? Bagge concentrates on Snorri the historian, viewing him in the context of European history in general and contemporary Icelandic and Norwegian society in particular. But it is Snorri's perception of events that matters, more than the "real" events or the society that produced them. With chapters on themes such as conflicts and the "game of politics" that pervades the sagas, Bagge's analysis of Heimskringla is a model for contemporary historians now probing the relationship between narrative and history.… (more)

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