Gísli Saga

I just realized that I seem to only have written my blog post on the Gísli Saga in my head, not anywhere digital and most certainly not on my blog. I probably need a WLAN-connected thought processor in my head, but I supposed I should just learn to post using my mobile phone.

Anyway. The Gísli saga is about - surprise - a guy called Gísli who had to leave Norway sometime around 950 because he had killed a few people too many. The saga is one of the shorter ones, so it is often read with students (I actually remember reading it about 20 years or so ago), and it happens to depict the adventures after Gísli and his companions landed in these parts.

The story was written down about 200 years later, so the details may be off a tad, but the places described are rather accurate, so scholars think it is true. The story is a rather involved one with women telling each other gossip and men overhearing and overreacting (i.e. killing each other) and eventually Gísli getting himself banned but refusing to leave his wife so she moves to a remote fjord and he hides alternately in her house and in a cave. He was quite a sly fox and had evaded his followers for years. He is eventually killed, with her fighting by his side, but he takes a lot of guys with him. His wife moves to the Viking town of Hedeby (Haithabu, just north of Kiel in Germany), converts to Christianity and eventually moves on to Rome.

We know the story by heart now - we saw the movie (Útlaginn, directed by Ágúst Guðmundsson), had a 3-hour lecture (in Icelandic!) on it, and then had field trips to see where it happened. I went on the first one, which was described as "easy paths". This included crossing some creeks balancing on boards with someone helping you over, hopping from hillock to hillock, jumping down a little hill and climbing over some fences. It was not raining by Icelandic standards, but we do look a bit bedraggled in the pictures.

We had a knowledgeable guide who recited the saga to us in Icelandic (lucky me, I ran through the English version over lunch just to be sure I remembered it). Then we were treated to a one-man-play by the only actor in Ísafjörður, Elfar Logi Hannesson who does a one act play, Gísli Súrsson, in English or in Icelandic. We got the English, thank goodness. It was very funny, and very well done for making you remember the story.

The hardiest of the group took the second field trip and walked down to the fjord where Gísli hid with his wife, nominally a four hour trip, but with an abundance of blueberries, they ended up taking lots of blueberry breaks. They had great weather and quite enjoyed the trip, but I liked my own blueberry picking.

So now we are completely checked out on this saga, I suppose we have to go on to the others, in order to have a more complete understanding of the Icelandic soul. Egilssaga, here we come!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hæ það er fínt að þið hafið það gott og skemmtilegt. Gott að lesa Gísla sögu á vestfjörðum