Grettis Saga Criticism - Essay

Robert J. Glendinning (essay date 1970)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Grettis Saga and European Literature in the Late Middle Ages,” in Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1970, pp. 49-61.

[In the following essay, Glendinning examines elements of the novella genre present in the Grettis Saga as well as motifs and devices it shares with the literature of continental Europe.]

During the second half of the 13th century, when the literature of continental Europe was beginning to move into the new intellectual constellation that was to become the Renaissance, the people of Iceland were still living in that brilliant period which saw the culmination of their mediaeval...

(The entire section is 6891 words.)

Lotte Motz (essay date 1973)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Withdrawal and Return: A Ritual Pattern in the Grettis Saga,” in Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi, Vol. 88, 1973, pp. 91-110.

[In the following essay, Motz provides instances in which the main characternof the Grettis Saga, Grettir, conforms to patterns of the hero in myth, tradition, and ritual, with the result that his individuality is sublimated.]

Grettir Ásmundarson, one of the strongest men of his time, a victim of both ill luck and the tempestuousness of his character, lived almost all of his adult life as an outlaw and was slain according to the saga written about him, as a mortally sick man on the lonely island which had sheltered him and...

(The entire section is 8694 words.)

Joan Turville-Petre (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Beowulf and Grettis Saga: An Excursion,” in Saga-Book, Vol. XIX, Part 4, 1977, pp. 347-57.

[In the following essay, Turville-Petre compares and contrasts several specific episodes in the Grettis Sagawith comparable ones in Beowulf.]

Beowulf pursues Grendel's mother into her lair, deep below the water.1 Grettir plunges under a waterfall, to reach the habitat of a troll-woman. Each of them destroys the enemy, after great struggles.

So we have two works, separated by 500 years or more; and in each of them the hero overcomes a visitant from the other-world, in basically similar circumstances.


(The entire section is 3882 words.)

E. J. J. Peters (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Wrestling in Grettis Saga,” in Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics, Vol. 25, No. 3, Spring, 1989, pp. 235-41.

[In the following essay, Peters discusses the prevalence of hryggspenna, a type of combat wrestling, in the Grettis Saga.]

Two distinct forms of wrestling are employed in Grettis Saga, an older Nordic hryggspenna style against nonhuman adversaries, and a newer, exclusively Icelandic glíma against all human opponents.1 The hryggspenna style is decidedly a combat style whereas glíma is practiced as sport. A form of trouser wretling similar to that practiced...

(The entire section is 2595 words.)

Robert Cook (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Reading for Character in Grettis Saga,” in Sagas of the Icelanders: A Book of Essays, edited by John Tucker, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1989, pp. 226-40.

[In the following essay, Cook demonstrates some ways of discerning and evaluating character in the Grettis Saga.]

The modern reader, brought up on novels and unused to the Sagas of Icelanders, will at first have a hard time. The sagas present a bewildering array of persons and events, names and details, often without highlighting what is important or pointing to connections or giving the reader any apparent basis for comprehension. The novice deserves some help, and in this essay I will offer some...

(The entire section is 4737 words.)

Magnús Fjalldal (essay date 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Making of Heroes and Monsters,” in The Long Arm of Coincidence: The Frustrated Connection between Beowulf and Grettis Saga, University of Toronto Press, 1998, pp. 17-36.

[In the following excerpt, Fjalldal refutes critical assertions of relationship between the characters of the Grettis Saga with those of Beowulf,claiming that many comparatists have shown more evidence of imaginative speculation than of literary research.]

The purpose of this and of the next three chapters is to examine the basic ingredients of the five genetically related analogues that critics claim to have found in Grettis saga against the relevant sections of...

(The entire section is 11672 words.)