Hrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard Choices by William Ian MillerHrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard Choices by William Ian Miller

Hrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard Choices

byWilliam Ian Miller

Hardcover | February 4, 2017

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William Ian Miller presents a close reading of one of the best known of the Icelandic sagas, showing its moral, political, and psychological sophistication. Hrafnkel tells of a fairly simple feud in which a man rises, falls, and rises again with a vengeance, so to speak. The saga deals withcomplex issues with finely layered irony: who can one justifiably hit, when, and by what means? It does this with cool nuance, also taking on matters of torture and pain-infliction as a means of generating fellow-feeling. How does one measure pain and humiliation so as to get even, to get back toequal? People are forced to set prices on things we tell ourselves soporifically are priceless, such as esteem, dignity, life itself. Morality no less than legal remedy involves price-setting.This book flies in the face of all the previous critical literature which, with very few exceptions, imposes simplistic readings on the saga. A translation of the saga is provided as an appendix.
William Ian Miller is the Thomas G. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan and Honorary Professor of history at the University of St. Andrews. He has written extensively on the bloodfeud, mostly as manifested in saga Iceland: Bloodtaking and Peacemaking (1990), Eye for an Eye (2006), Audun and the Polar Bear (2008); 'Why i...
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Title:Hrafnkel or the Ambiguities: Hard Cases, Hard ChoicesFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pagesPublished:February 4, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198793030

ISBN - 13:9780198793038

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From the Author

William Ian Miller presents a close reading of one of the best known of the Icelandic sagas, showing its moral, political, and psychological sophistication. Hrafnkel tells of a fairly simple feud in which a man rises, falls, and rises again with a vengeance, so to speak. The saga deals withcomplex issues with finely layered irony: who can one justifiably hit, when, and by what means? It does this with cool nuance, also taking on matters of torture and pain-infliction as a means of generating fellow-feeling. How does one measure pain and humiliation so as to get even, to get back toequal? People are forced to set prices on things we tell ourselves soporifically are priceless, such as esteem, dignity, life itself. Morality no less than legal remedy involves price-setting.This book flies in the face of all the previous critical literature which, with very few exceptions, imposes simplistic readings on the saga. A translation of the saga is provided as an appendix.

Table of Contents

Note to ReadersAcknowledgementsAbbreviationsGenealogiesPart I: Introduction1. A Somewhat Querulous Introduction: Hrafnkel and the Critics2. Of Names and ManageabilityPart II. Economic, Social, and Geological Context3. The Saga's Economics (ch. 14)4. New-found Land and Setting up Households (chs. 1-2)Part III. Horse, Vow, and Killing5. Freysgodi, Frey, and Freyfaxi6. The Ojafnadarmadr (the 'unevenman')7. Sam, Einar, Hrafnkel (chs 3-6)8. Freyfaxi and Hrafnkel: More on the Vow and its Price (chs 5-6)9. Hrafnkel's Offer (ch. 7)10. Thorbjorn's Rejection (ch. 7 cont.)Part IV. Lawsuit ab ovo to 'Final' Settlement11. Mustering Support and Going Public (ch. 7 cont.)12. The Lawsuit: Preparatory Stages (chs 8-9)13. Thorkel's Homily on Fellow-feeling and Commensurating Pain (ch. 10)14. The trial (chs 11-12)15. Hanging Upside-down and Sam's Self-judgment (ch. 13)16. Farewell Freyfaxi and Frey (chs 15-16)17. The 'True' Nature of Hrafnkel's Transformation (ch. 16)Part V. Six Years Later18. Eyvind Returns; a Gridkona Takes Over (ch. 17)19. Who in Hell Are We Rooting For? (ch. 18)20. Hrafnkel's Judgment and Justification (ch. 19)21. Sam's Last Gasp (ch. 20)22. Sam and Morpheus: What Counts as Taking a Turn23. Conclusion: Hard cases, hard choicesAppendices:A. Hrafnkels saga Freysgodi, translation of MS AM 156, fol.B. Glossary of Norse TermsWorks Cited:A.1 Hrafnkels saga, editions and translations consultedA.2 Norse sources and translationsB. Secondary WorksMapsIndex