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All the Mountains Shake: Seismic and Volcanic Imagery in the Old Norse Literature of Þórr
Stockholms universitet.
2017 (English)In: Scripta Islandica: Isländska Sällskapets Årsbok, ISSN 0582-3234, E-ISSN 2001-9416, Vol. 68, p. 99-122Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent scholarship has indicated that the conception of the Old Norse god Þórr as a thunder god may have been unfamiliar to Viking Age and medieval Icelanders and even to some Scandinavians. This throws much of the mythological poetry con­cerning the deity into a new light, and, in this article, I focus on the con­se­quences for the interpretation of images of shaking and fire in two poems, Loka­senna and Þrymskviða.

These images are compared with similar portrayals of natural calamities, also related to Þórr, in Hallmundarkviða and Haustlöng. The perspective suggested is that, in some contexts, poets and audiences associated quite conventional cos­mological imagery of disruption with specific natural phenomena, including vol­canic eruptions and earthquakes, and that the turmoil in Hallmundarkviða, Loka­senna and Þrymskviða may attest to an extra-literary – if still weak – connection between Þórr and these other phenomena.

Thereafter, I analyse the textual function of this seam of cosmological imagery and conclude that its primary function is to advertise the strength of the super­natural being causing it, in keeping with the persistent characterisation of Þórr in terms of his physical power in Old Norse-Icelandic literary traditions. By drawing out the cultural and textual significances of these motifs, this article aims to demon­strate the competing demands of genre, characterisation, and environ­ment in the composition of Old Norse myths centring on Þórr and to elucidate the extent to which these images mediate responses to the terrains of Iceland and Nor­way.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Isländska sällskapet , 2017. Vol. 68, p. 99-122
Keywords [en]
Þórr, eco-criticism, volcanoes, earthquakes, Old Norse mythology
National Category
Languages and Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-336107OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-336107DiVA, id: diva2:1168389
Available from: 2017-12-20 Created: 2017-12-20 Last updated: 2017-12-20

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