Snorri Sturluson

Snorri Sturluson
   Snorri Sturluson was Iceland’s best-known medieval writer. He was a historian, a poet, and perhaps a saga writer as well. He wrote HEIMSKRINGLA (a history of the kings of Norway), the PROSE EDDA (a handbook of Norse mythology and SKALDIC POETRY), and is thought to be the author of EGIL’S SAGA (one of the finest of the Old Icelandic family SAGAS). Embroiled in the politics of his day in Norway, Snorri fell afoul of the Norwegian king, and was murdered in what was probably a political assassination in 1241.
   Snorri was born in Hvamm in the western part of Iceland in 1179. He was from the powerful Sturlung family, which attained unprecedented influence in the period 1200–64, and after whom this turbulent period of the 13th century is named. The Sturlung Age was known for its lawlessness and violence that became so tumultuous that the Norwegian king stepped in to govern and by 1264, Iceland had lost its independence. Snorri grew up as the foster son of Iceland’s most powerful chieftain, Jón Loftsson, and was educated at Oddi, Iceland’s premier center for learning, located at Jón Loftsson’s farmstead.Here he learned law and history, as well as the arts of poetry and saga writing. Snorri was ambitious, grew to be a powerful man of the time, and accumulated a great deal of wealth, becoming chieftain of several judicial districts. He was made lawspeaker of the Althing (the Icelandic parliament) in 1215–18 and again in 1222–31. As lawspeaker, he recited the whole body of Icelandic law at the beginning of the session, and acted as arbiter in legal disputes.
   He also visited Norway twice. After his first visit (1218–20), he left with great honor, having ingratiated himself with both King Hakon Hakonarson and his regent, Jarl Skúli. Snorri returned to Iceland at the height of his power, and by the mid-1220s was the richest man in Iceland. But violent squabbles with rival members of his Sturlung family and their allies reduced his influence by 1235, and in 1237 he left Iceland again for Norway. There he became involved in the political battle surrounding the Norwegian throne. King Hakon Hakonarson was being challenged by Jarl Skúli. Snorri supported Skúli’s rebellion, and when Skúli was killed in 1240, Snorri was ordered by Hakon not to return to Iceland. Against the king’s wishes, Snorri sailed home. In 1241, Snorri was murdered at his home in Skalholt by his former son-in-law, Gizurr Thorwaldsson, on Hakon’s orders.
   But it is for his literary achievements that Snorri is remembered. And this is unusual: Prose texts in Iceland were almost always anonymous, prose being seen as simply the retelling of traditional stories. Snorri is the chief exception to this rule. Known in his own day as a respected skaldic poet, it is Snorri’s prose works that have made his posthumous reputation. His prose voice is witty, intelligent, and objective, perhaps in contrast with the sometimes ruthlessly ambiguous figure that appears in his biography. His Heimskringla (The disk of the world, ca. 1235) is a collection of sagas on the kings of Norway, beginning with the Ynglinga saga, an account of the legendary ancestors of the Norwegian kings, dating back to Odin himself, the chief Norse god. Snorri then tells of King Harald Fairhair about 850, and includes sagas of the various kings from Harald’s time to his own age. Snorri’s Edda (called the Prose Edda, or the Younger Edda, to distinguish it from the POETIC EDDA, mistakenly thought to be older) is something of a textbook describing the various meters and types of KENNINGS found in skaldic verse. This poetic guide is linked to a handbook of Norse mythology. As for Egil’s Saga, if Snorri did in fact write it, as the style suggests, it is a brilliant picture of a complex poet-chieftain who was, in fact, one of Snorri’s own ancestors.
   The tale of Snorri’s stormy life is told in the Islendinga Saga, composed by Sturla Thordarson (1214–84), Snorri’s own nephew and apparently the heir of his literary talent, though the saga mentions little of Snorri’s cultural achievements. To appreciate those, we need to read Snorri himself.
   ■ Bagge, Sverre. Society and Politics in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
   ■ Ciklamini, Marlene. Snorri Sturluson. Boston: Twayne, 1978.
   ■ Egil’s Saga. Translated with an introduction by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards.Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1976.
   ■ Sturlunga Saga. Translated by Julia H.McGrew.With an introduction by R. George Thomas. 2 vols.New York: Twayne, 1970–1974.
   ■ Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Edited and translated by Anthony Faulkes. London: Dent, 1987.
   ■ ———.Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. Translated with an introduction by Lee M. Hollander. Austin: Published for the American-Scandinavian Foundation by the University of Texas Press, 1964.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • Snorri Sturluson — [The Old Norse/Icelandic spelling of the name is Snorri Sturluson . Snorre Sturlason is the modern Norwegian and Snorre Sturlasson the modern Swedish spelling. For the construction of the name (a patronymic), see Icelandic naming conventions.… …   Wikipedia

  • SNORRI STURLUSON — Depuis huit siècles qu’elle existe, la littérature islandaise n’a jamais compté d’écrivain comparable à Snorri, fils de Sturla de Hvammr. Mythologue, sagnamadr (compositeur de sagas), poète, pédagogue, historien hors pair, il domine de sa… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Snorri Sturluson — • Historian, born at Hvammr, 1178; died 1241 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Snorri Sturluson     Snorri Sturluson     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Snorri Sturluson — Snorri Sturluson, einer der bedeutendsten Isländer, der in der Geschichte der skandinavischen Literatur wie in der seiner engern Heimat eine wichtige Rolle spielt, geb. 1178 auf dem Hof Hvamm in Island als Sprößling eines der ältesten… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Snorri Sturluson — Snorri Sturluson, geb. 1178 auf dem Hofe Hvamm auf Island, wurde in der von Sämund dem Weisen gestifteten Schule in Odd gebildet u. verwaltete seit 1213 das Amt eines Lagmadrs (Gesetzmann); seit 1218 machte er Reisen nach Schweden u. Norwegen, um …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Snorri Sturluson — [snô′rē stʉr′lə sən] 1179? 1241; Icelandic historian & poet …   English World dictionary

  • Snorri Sturluson — Druckausgabe der Snorra Edda von 1666 Statue Snorri Sturlusons von Gustav Vigeland in Reykholt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Snorri Sturluson — Homme politique, diplomate, historien et poète islandais, Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241) est le principal écrivain scandinave du Moyen Âge. Auteur de nombreuses sagas et de récits mythologiques, son œuvre constitue une source irremplaçable pour la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Snorri Sturluson — Snọrri Sturluson,   isländischer Dichter, Historiker und Staatsmann, * Hvamm (Westisland) 1178/79, ✝ (ermordet) auf seinem Gut Reykjaholt 22. 9. 1241; gehörte zur mächtigen Sturlungenfamilie (Sturlunga saga), hatte 1215 18 und 1222 31 das… …   Universal-Lexikon

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