Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ketill Ørlygsson

Ketill Ørlygsson, the devious, blasphemous, and dishonest son of Ørlygur à Borg. As a parish priest eager for the family property at Borg, he seeks to destroy his father’s good name by accusing him of being the father of Runa’s child. After Ketill himself is revealed as the father, he repents of his sins and becomes a homeless and compassionate wanderer. Regarding himself as a guest on earth, and losing an eye while saving the life of a child, he becomes “Guest the one-eyed.” Finally, the old self of Ketill destroyed, he returns to Borg as Guest and is forgiven by his family.

Ormarr Ørlygsson

Ormarr Ørlygsson, Ketill Ørlygsson’s honest, intelligent, and artistic brother, who sacrifices his own concerns to marry Runa.

Ørlygur à Borg

Ørlygur à Borg, a well-to-do landowner and the father of Ketill and Ormarr. Falsely and publicly accused by his son Ketill of the crime of lust, he is killed by the knowledge of his son’s depravity.

Gudrun (Runa)

Gudrun (Runa), the daughter of a poor farmer and the mother of Ketill’s son, Ørlygur the Younger.

Pall a Seyru

Pall a Seyru, Runa’s father.

Ørlygur the Younger

Ørlygur the Younger, the son of Ketill and Runa.

Snebiorg (Bagga)

Snebiorg (Bagga), an illegitimate girl engaged to marry Ørlygur the Younger.

Guest the One-Eyed Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Beck, Richard. “Gunnar Gunnarsson: Some Observations.” In Scandinavian Studies, edited by Carl F. Bayerschmidt and Erik J. Friis. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965. A good starting place for further research on Gunnarsson.

Hallberg, Peter. “Gunnar Gunnarsson.” In Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature, edited by Virpi Zuck. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990. Concise factual background on Gunnarsson and his major work, Guest the One-Eyed. Bibliography.

Rossel, Sven Hakon. A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982. Pages 247-248 discuss Gunnarsson’s major themes and his place in Icelandic literature.