Snorri Sturluson Criticism - Essay

A. Ya. Gurevich (essay date 1971)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Gurevich, A. Ya. “Saga and History: The ‘Historical Conception’ of Snorri Sturluson.” Mediaeval Scandinavia 4 (1971): 42-53.

[In the following essay, Gurevich explores various texts by Snorri to illustrate that the Scandinavians of his time did not interpret history theologically and that their concept of it is implicit in their sagas.]

Discussion of the “general meaning”, or “tendency”, in Snorri's historical construction can be hardly considered finished. Divergencies in the appraisal of his views by H. Koht,1 Fr. Paasche,2 J. Schreiner,3 H. Lie,4 G. Sandvik,5 and S. Beyschlag6...

(The entire section is 6028 words.)

Marlene Ciklamini (essay date 1978)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ciklamini, Marlene. “Grégóríús Dagsson, Snorri's Flawed Hero.” Scandinavian Studies 50, no. 2 (spring 1978): 186-94.

[In the following essay, Ciklamini focuses on Snorri's complex characterization of Grégóríús in the Heimskringla.]

Heimskringla is full of admiration for the martial skill, spirit, and intelligence of the hero. Indeed, the importance of the warrior for the survival of society is intimated at the beginning of the monumental work, the mythical prologue to the history of the Norwegian kings. Óðinn heads the Norse pantheon. His qualities explain his dominance in the mythic and heroic ages, and his veneration justifies on a...

(The entire section is 4193 words.)

Marlene Ciklamini (essay date 1978)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ciklamini, Marlene. “The Prose Edda” and “Snorri's History of the Norwegian Kings to the Reign of Óláfr the Saint: Heimskringla, ca. 1230.” In Snorri Sturluson, pp. 43-91. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978.

[In the following excerpt, Ciklamini provides overviews of the three sections of the Prose Edda and of the sagas found in Heimskringla.]


Snorri's best-known and most popular work is probably the Prose Edda.1 With the exception of some skaldic poems it is also the earliest work Snorri composed. Its history of origin is interesting. Snorri first conceived and executed a part...

(The entire section is 19621 words.)

Lotte Motz (essay date 1980)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Motz, Lotte. “Sister in the Cave: The Stature and the Function of the Female Figures of the Eddas.Arkiv for Nordisk Filologi / Archives for Scandinavian Philology 95 (1980): 168-82.

[In the following essay, Motz surveys the treatment of female characters in Snorri's narratives.]

According to the sources from which we gain most of our knowledge concerning Germanic myth, the prose and poems of the Eddas, the world is governed by divinities, the Aesir, and their female consorts and companions, the Asynjur. The group, interrelated by marriage or parenthood, lives as an extended family in the stronghold Asgard, much like the gods who feast,...

(The entire section is 7516 words.)

Arthur D. Mosher (essay date 1983)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Mosher, Arthur D. “The Story of Baldr's Death: The Inadequacy of Myth in the Light of Christian Faith.” Scandinavian Studies 55, no. 4 (autumn 1983): 305-15.

[In the following essay, Mosher explores parallels between Baldr's death and Jesus's crucifixion.]

Scholars have repeatedly been attracted to three narratives in the so-called Snorra Edda which are stylistically unique: the stories of Thor's visit to Útgarðaloki, Þórr's fishing expedition, and Baldr's death. Jan de Vries1 has correctly pointed out that the numerous details and the complexity of the narratives differentiate these stories from the rather tersely related anecdotes...

(The entire section is 4902 words.)

O. D. Macrae-Gibson (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Macrae-Gibson, O. D. “Sagas, Snorri, and the Literary Criticism of Scaldic Verse.” In Úr Dölum til Dala: Guðbrandur Vigfússon Centenary Essays, edited by Rory McTurk and Andrew Wawn, pp. 165-86. Leeds, England: University of Leeds, 1989.

[In the following essay, Macrae-Gibson discusses whether the skalds meant for their compositions to be interpreted in a larger cultural context and also analyzes Snorri's stance on the subject.]

Among Guðbrandur Vigfússon's scholarly concerns was the proper interpretation of Snorri's account of Old Norse poetry. He was particularly troubled that contemporary critics were misapplying it to Eddaic verse: “[Snorri's]...

(The entire section is 9094 words.)

Sverre Bagge (essay date 1991)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bagge, Sverre. “Morality and Human Character.” In Society and Politics in Snorri Sturluson's “Heimskringla,” pp. 146-91. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Bagge examines Snorri's views regarding morality, chivalry, personality, and character.]


In the present chapter I shall attempt to draw the conclusions from Snorri's treatment of conflicts for his ideas of morality and human character, thereby directly addressing the question of “political man” mentioned in the introduction. I shall treat Snorri's ideal king and aristocrat and the norms they are supposed to adhere to,...

(The entire section is 29043 words.)

Sverre Bagge (essay date 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bagge, Sverre. “From Sagas to Society: The Case of Heimskringla.” In From Sagas to Society: Comparative Approaches to Early Iceland, edited by Gísli Pálsson, pp. 61-75. Middlesex, England: Hisarlik Press, 1992.

[In the following essay, Bagge explores the question of how reliably Snorri depicts political aspects of historical society.]

In contrast to its treatment of the family sagas, modern criticism has not entirely expelled the kings' sagas from the field of historiography to that of literary criticism. This has, however, proved a mixed blessing. Since they are not considered to be pure fiction, literary scholars have avoided them, while the...

(The entire section is 6781 words.)

Hans Kuhn (essay date 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Kuhn, Hans. “Fabulous Childhoods, Adventures, Incidents: Folktale Patterns within the Saga Structure of Heimskringla.Fabula: Zeitschrift fur Erzahlforschhung / Journal of Folktale Studies 41, no. 1-2 (2000): 76-86.

[In the following essay, Kuhn discusses the role of folktale elements in the narratgive and structure of Heimskringla.]


At the conference of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research in Innsbruck in 1992, I gave a paper entitled The Supernatural Turned Natural: Icelandic Folk-Tales between Fairytale, Legend and Saga. My point of departure was the observation that the usual genre...

(The entire section is 5663 words.)