Icelandic Folklore and the Cultural Memory of Religious Change
A cultural memory of belief in the North placing Icelandic folktales in a context of religious doctrine, social history, and Old Norse sagas and poetry.
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Iceland’s uncommon proclivity towards storytelling, its robust tradition of medieval manuscripts, and the “re-oralization” of those narratives after the medieval period, create a body of folktales and legends that have encoded a hidden account of how orthodox and heterodox beliefs (sometimes pagan in origin) intermingled as Christianity, and later Reformation, spread through the North. This volume unlocks that secret story by placing Icelandic folktales in a context of religious doctrine, social history, and Old Norse sagas and poetry. The analysis herein reveals a cultural memory of belief.
Introduction: Stories, Memories, and Modalities Belief
Chapter 1—The Dead Bridegroom Carries off his Bride: Pejoration and Adjacency Pairs in ATU 365
Chapter 2—The Elf-Woman’s Conversion: Gender Spheres in Post-Medieval Icelandic Folktales
Chapter 3— The Fylgjur of Iceland: Attendant Spirits and a Distorted Sense of Guardianship
Chapter 4—The Elf Church: Memories of Contested Sacred Spaces
Chapter 5—The Stupid Boy and the Devil: Sæmundur Fróði, Magic, and Redemption
Conclusion: The Transformation of Memory and of Self