In The “Fucking Finally” Department:

8

10/02/2013 by syrbal-labrys


HammerHorn-EditThe infamous Vikings were not marauding savages alone, and science finally SAYS SO. I admit, it gives me a real grump to constantly see popular culture portrayals of the Nordic sorts as nothing but ravening raiders.
Anyone who has studied the real history of that part of the world KNOWS they were navigators and traders as well and that they had a well-developed home life. And that their laws were the model for our own laws.

So, Jeebus on a cracker, movie-makers; could you stop already with the tacky portrayals (Yes, History Channel with your Vikings show, I’m looking at YOU!) They did not only raid, and they weren’t all nutcases with odd body art. I would strongly recommend a GOOD medieval look at Nordic society through the novels of Sigrid Undset, who won a Nobel prize for her “Kristin Lavrensdatter” and “Master of Hestviken” in 1928.

The complex social systems seen in her stories (and others) do not grow out of a society of ravening raiders.
Raiding was a nice way to get rid of hotheads and keep younger sons busy; our society does the same thing and calls it “patriotism” and sends the young off to die in sandboxes for the benefit of American corporations.

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8 thoughts on “In The “Fucking Finally” Department:

  1. E.A. Blair says:

    Everything you mentioned is true; in addition, the Vikings were poets and storytellers. Iceland, the last bastion of the Viking tradition and Nordic Paganism, was the first place in post-Classical Europe to develop a literary tradition. The sagas, eddas and poems, after centuries of oral preservation, were written down to be preserved for future generations. That body of literature is read and revered today – it would be as if all English-speaking people knew Beowulf in the original.

    I spent five years of my college career being schooled in Old Norse, the language of the Vikings, and also spent a glorious summer studying in Iceland. I can still read the original literature, and, since modern Icelandic is not much changed, can manage to read it as well (I have an Icelandic translation of “The Hobbit”).

    To rant about my pet peeve about misconceptions about Vikings: no, their helmets did not have horns. Helmets are designed to either deflect or absorb blows to the head. Protruberances like that on a helmet would give an opponents’ sword a place to engage the helm. pull the head violently to one side and break the wearer’s neck.

    And, despite the quality of the History Channel’s* series, I was cheering them on during the episode that depicted the raid on Lindisfarne.

    *A channel that runs programs on “ancient aliens” and treats the bible as fact doesn’t deserve to have the word “history” in its name.

    • Oh, thank you for reminding me of the helmet nonsense! The sagas sit on our bookshelves, in translation, alas. Perhaps, with recent idiocy from the History Channel. I should count my blessing that they do not attempt to produce another favorite of mine…. The Finnish epic “The Kalavela”.

      • E.A. Blair says:

        I used to have a nearly complete set of sagas in Old Norse, but the books were lost in moving. I found the translations of prose by Herman Palsson and Magnus Magnussen most readable in English, but their renderings of poetry leave something to be desired. I prefer my own.

        I would love to be able to read the Kalevala in the original, but the sixteen cases of Finnish are a little much, even with a linguistics degree. I was never able to master more than a few tourist’s phrases, although I love the sound of the language. For a good dose of it, look for CDs by Sanna Kurki-Suonio. She sings in Finnish, and her music is lovely even if you can’t understand the lyrics. She used to sing with Hedningarna, a Swedish/Finnish band that took their themes from folk motifs (the Nordic Roots movement) and has lyrics in both languages.

      • I ADORE Hedingarna, although it is difficult to find their recordings here. My brain is simply too fogged and busy for languages these days; I could probably re-learn my German, and with great effort recover significant portions of Russian; but I think Suomo would be beyond me.

      • E.A. Blair says:

        My late wife presented me with a copy of Hedningarna’s “Fire” CD, and I got the rest directly from Northside Records. From there, I got caught up with the other bands in the Nordic Roots movement, most of them on the Northside label – Sorten Muld, Väsen, Garmarna, Värttinä and others. They’re at noside.com, and they also carry Sanna Kurki-Suonio – so if you want to find the CDs, that’s the place.

        Some years ago, I wanted to brush up on my German, so I bought a translation of The Lord of the Rings. I’ve read it enough so that if I came across something in the German version that I didn’t recognize, I could infer it both from context and from my knowledge of the English version without having to keep my Duden and Langenscheidt’s at my side. I didn’t think that would work with Finnish, though. It’s too opaque, with almost no shared vocabulary. I did take a summer course in Finnish (aimed primarily at potential tourists) because I wanted a little exposure to a non-Indo-European language.

        On the other hand, since Tolkien derived the Quenya language along Finnish principles, reading LotR in that language would be a little like reading it in the original High Elvish.

      • I love the LOR books, and the Silmarillion even more.
        But in terms of language and how it snarls my brain? Tolkien was a scary, scary man!

        Somewhere round here we have The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in Russian…

  2. Sixbears says:

    Guess it’s just as well I don’t watch the History Channel.

    So . . . don’t they teach this stuff in school anymore . . . oh wait, nevermind. History in general is extremely poorly taught, even at the college level. I once had a professor who fell asleep during his own lectures.

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Herland

The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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