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Prophet, poet, seer, skald: Poetic diction in Merlínusspá
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Centrum för lärande, kultur och samhälle (CLKS).
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Language Studies, ISSN 2157-4898, E-ISSN 2157-4901, Vol. 12, no 4, p. 29-60Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the use of figurative language in Gunnlagur Leifsson’s Merlínusspá, an early 13th-century Icelandic translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Prophetiae Merlini. Gunnlaugr has translated Geoffrey’s Latin prose into Icelandic poetry and added kennings, multipart circumlocutions for nouns, to Geoffrey’s animal allegory. Particularly notable is Gunnlaugr’s use of elaborate kennings in a meter and poetic form that do not demand them. This suggests that he understood kennings as having a potential role in the prophetic and figurative language he rendered into Icelandic. Building on previous scholarship, I proceed from the assumption that Gunnlaugr is conscious in his use of kennings to supplement the symbolic and figurative language of Geoffrey’s text, and that even if his main intention is to provide ornament, he does so in an original and thoughtful way that may provide a glimpse of academic understanding of kennings as figurative language in late 12th and early 13th-century Iceland. Ultimately, Gunnlaugr’s kennings provide an interpretive multidimensionality and culture-bridging effect, serving to link the ancient Britain of Merlin’s prophecies to Gunnlaugr’s Iceland, and Icelandic literature to that of the wider world. This article is largely intended as an overview of Gunnlaugr’s use of figurative language, in particular for non-specialists in Old Norse who nevertheless might take some interest in this example of Arthuriana norræna. © 2018 IJLS; Printed in the USA by Lulu Press Inc.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lulu Press Inc. , 2018. Vol. 12, no 4, p. 29-60
Keywords [en]
Figurative language, Gunnlaugr, Icelandic poetry, Kennings, Latin prose, Poetic diction
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Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-41555Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85059531852OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-41555DiVA, id: diva2:1390922
Available from: 2020-02-03 Created: 2020-02-03 Last updated: 2020-02-03Bibliographically approved

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Cudmore, Danielle

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