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Access to the Margins: Outlawry and Narrative spaces in medieval Icelandic outlaw sagas.

Marion Poilvez

Brathair12 (1), 2012: 115-136

The legal and historical aspect of Icelandic outlawry in the Middle Ages has been widely studied and commented by scholars, either by following formal indications from the Grágás or through the use of literary examples spread in the sagas. The two main Icelandic outlaw sagas, Grettis saga Ásmundarsonar and Gísla saga Súrssonar have been so far mainly discussed in connection with other tales on outlaws from Europe (Robin Hood, Hereward), but surprisingly not often together. Through the analysis of the concepts of exile and liminality, this paper will attempt to relocate the two sagas in their specific Icelandic context and underline the specific nature of the Icelandic full
outlawry as well as its consequences in the narrative. Icelandic medieval outlaws were excluded from the social space of the island, yet forbidden to leave it (óferjandi). The fact to be stuck on the island but out of the public scene leads to the creation of new original and individualized narrative spaces: the supernatural wilderness for Grettir, the tortured dreams for Gísli.

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