Monday, June 25, 2012

The Greenlanders, Commentary pt.2

One thing the author did to keep her story in the spirit of the Norse was to have people quote mocking verse at each other as a lead in to a fight. Skaldic verse was a very difficult type of poetry and I hate having to translate it. I have no head for riddles. Smiley eschewed the complicated mechanics of proper skaldic verse and kept a simple 'nyah-nyah-nyah' in English which was kinder to the audience and herself.
At times, characters would tell stories, too. Some of the stories were a retelling of events in recent Greenland history with names to protect the innocent and other stories were like the one Gunnar started on page 243.
It was autumn and his son Kollgrim was feeling restless so he told him a story about a woman named Skadi and Leif the Lucky. In the story, Skadi's father Thorir had stolen some apples from Eric the Red and Eric killed him. When Skadi demanded compensation for the death of her father, she asked for a husband, thinking to marry the handsome Leif, and a bellyful of laughter. If this sounds a little like the story of the giantess who demanded to marry Balder in compensation for the death of her father, Thiazi, you would not be wrong.
I am not sure why Smiley changed the names. Truly the church did not like people telling such stories about the old gods but the church was far from Greenland and the Norse were always proud of their heritage. I wonder if she would have been better off leaving the old stories as they were.

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