The Icelandic Homer
By Nancy Marie Brown
Palgrave Macmillan 27.00 256 pages
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, while at Oxford, neither having yet written their masterpieces, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, respectively, once debated the appropriate curriculum for English majors. Lewis fell on the side of the classics, Shakespeare and the like, while Tolkien opted for Snorri Sturluson.
“These stories are not to be consigned to oblivion.”
Nancy Marie Brown spends her newest book, Song of the Vikings, answering this very question: who was Snorri Sturluson, the man who gave us the Eddas, most of what we know about Viking gods and myths, a powerful political man and lawspeaker, who came to nearly rule Iceland and closer to betraying it? Along the way she explores how Viking culture impacted the larger world, both its literature and broader implications left by its veneration of tall, fair, blond-haired, blue-eyed warriors.
Brown offers a fascinating view into the Viking Age (793 A.D. to 1066 A.D.), with particular attention to the politics and history of Iceland and its relations to its benefactor country of Norway. From magic swords and giants’ gloves to murders in dank cellars, Brown’s story of Snorri Sturluson’s Iceland raises some interesting questions about the literary cannon and shines light on an author whose history could easily have lost.
Reviewed By Axie Barclay