Welcome to the first episode of Saga Shorts, a side project of Saga Thing where John and Andy review the þættir of medieval Iceland. In this episode, we provide a brief introduction to þættir and the difficulties one faces when trying to define the genre. If you’re not interested in those technical details, just skip ahead to 10:10, where we begin our review of Þorsteins þáttr stangarhöggs (The Tale of Thorstein Staff-struck). This fun little tale tells the story of an old Viking’s son named Thorstein who gets into some trouble with Bjarni Brodd-Helgisson, the local goði, after killing 3 of his farmhands.
Harris, Joseph. “Genre and Narrative Structure in Some Íslendinga þættir.” Scandinavian Studies 44 (1972): 1-27.
Harris, Joseph. “Þættir.” In Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol. 12, edited by Joseph R. Strayer, 1-6. New York: Charles Scribner, 1989.
Jakobsson, Ármann. “The Life and Death of the Medieval Icelandic Short Story.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 112 (2013): 257-91.
Kristjánsson, Jónas. “Íslendinga þættir.” In Eddas and Sagas: Iceland’s Medieval Literature, translated by Peter Foote, 299-309. Reykjavík: Hið íslenska bókmenntafélag, 1997.
Miller, William Ian. “A Case Study of the Sagas as Sources: Þorsteins Þáttr stangarhöggs and the Politics of Accident.” In Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland, 51-76. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Rowe, Elizabeth Ashman. “The Long and the Short of It.” In The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas, edited by Ármann Jakobsson, Sverrir Jakobsson, 151-63. New York: Routledge, 2017.
Rowe, Elizabeth Ashman and Joseph Harris. “Short Prose Narrative (þáttr).” In A Companion to Old-Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, edited by Rory McTurk, 462-78. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.
Intro: From “Death Awaits” by Billy Malmstrom
Outro: From “Óðinn” by Krauka