Between History And Myth: Stories Of Harald Fairhair And The Founding Of The State by Bruce LincolnBetween History And Myth: Stories Of Harald Fairhair And The Founding Of The State by Bruce Lincoln

Between History And Myth: Stories Of Harald Fairhair And The Founding Of The State

byBruce Lincoln

Hardcover | September 1, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info

$71.39 online 
$71.50 list price
Earn 357 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


All groups tell stories about their beginnings. Such tales are oft-repeated, finely wrought, and usually much beloved. Among those institutions most in need of an impressive creation account is the state: it's one of the primary ways states attempt to legitimate themselves. But such founding narratives invite revisionist retellings that modify details of the story in ways that undercut, ironize, and even ridicule the state's ideal self-representation. Medieval accounts of how Norway was unified by its first king provide a lively, revealing, and wonderfully entertaining example of this process.
Taking the story of how Harald Fairhair unified Norway in the ninth century as its central example, Bruce Lincoln illuminates the way a state's foundation story blurs the distinction between history and myth and how variant tellings of origin stories provide opportunities for dissidence and subversion as subtle-or not so subtle-modifications are introduced through details of character, incident, and plot structure. Lincoln reveals a pattern whereby texts written in Iceland were more critical and infinitely more subtle than those produced in Norway, reflecting the fact that the former had a dual audience: not just the Norwegian court, but also Icelanders of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, whose ancestors had fled from Harald and founded the only non-monarchic, indeed anti-monarchic, state in medieval Europe.
Between History and Myth will appeal not only to specialists in Scandinavian literature and history but also to anyone interested in memory and narrative.
Bruce Lincoln is the Caroline E. Haskell Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, where he is also affiliated with the Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Medieval Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. He has published numerous books with the University of Chicago Press, most recently ...
Title:Between History And Myth: Stories Of Harald Fairhair And The Founding Of The StateFormat:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:September 1, 2014Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022614092X

ISBN - 13:9780226140926

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Introduction
2. Gyða
3. Rögnvald the Powerful
4. Snorri Sturluson
5. Commander Guthorm
6. Ragnhild
7. Dofri the Giant
8. Hálfdan the Black
9. Shaggy Harald
10. Ingjald the Wicked
11. Conclusions

Coda: A Reader Reflects

Appendix: Synoptic Tables

Editorial Reviews

“Lincoln has written a magnificently nuanced and immensely scholarly work on the great Norwegian and Icelandic sagas concerning the origins of the ancient Norwegian state and its unification by Harald Fairhair, also known as 'the Shaggy.' He brilliantly demonstrates the poetic, virtually ontological, and reverberating potency of the sagas, and their role in the forging of political legitimacy in a historical context where monarchic forces contend against those that imagine a state that rejects the submission that monarchical power demands. This is a study that realizes the great literary and narrative genius of the sagas, filled with anthropological insight, and relevance for contemporary discussions of the nature of the state and its hold over the peoples it commands.”