Date: 30 Sep 2012
Beowulf and the Old Norse Two-Troll Analogues
- Magnús Fjalldal
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Ever since the first Old Norse analogue to the description of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel and his mother was proposed in 1878, Beowulf scholars have looked for more, but seldom been able to agree as to which one was the closest. Now, however, two of the latest Beowulf handbooks (Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles: A Beowulf Handbook and Andy Orchard: A Critical Companion to Beowulf) are in a rare agreement when they suggest that so-called two-troll stories should be regarded as the closest Old Norse analogues to the monster fights in the poem. This is a dubious suggestion. The relationship of these analogues to the poem is established by using questionable methodology, the proposed two-troll analogues have conflicting definitions, and Grendel and his mother do not have a great deal in common with Norse trolls. A more promising option than looking for analogous narrative episodes is to search for individual parallel features in the Old Norse texts. If that is done, Grendel and his mother and Beowulf’s fights with them turn out to have more in common with Old Norse stories about animated corpses (draugar and haugbúar) than they ever do with trolls. The evidence suggests that the author of Beowulf was more eclectic in his creation of Grendel and his mother and Beowulf’s fights with them than these two latest handbooks are prepared to recognize. Synopses of the ten two-troll episodes that have been proposed as analogues are given in an “Appendix” to the article.
Andersson, T. M. (1997). Sources and analogues. In R. E. Bjork & J. D. Niles (Eds.), A Beowulf handbook (pp. 125–148). Exeter: University of Exeter Press.
Chadwick, N. K. (1946). Norse ghosts (A study in the Draugr and the Haugbúi). Folklore, 57, 50–65, 106–127.
Chadwick, N. K. (1959). The monsters and Beowulf. In P. Clemoes (Ed.), The Anglo-Saxons—Studies in some aspects of their history and culture presented to Bruce Dickins (pp. 171–203). London: Bowes & Bowes.
Chambers, R. W. (1921). Beowulf—An introduction to the study of the poem. Cambridge: At the University Press.
Clark, G. (1997). The hero and the theme. In R. E. Bjork & J. D. Niles (Eds.), A Beowulf handbook (pp. 271–290). Exeter: University of Exeter Press.
Jakobsson, Á. (2009). Identifying the ogre—The legendary saga giants. In A. Ney et al. (Eds.), Fornaldarsagaerne, myter og virkelighed—Studier i de oldislandske fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda (pp. 181–200). Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanums forlag—The University of Copenhagen.
Jónsson, G., & Vilhjálmsson, B. (Eds.). (1943–1944). Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda, Vol. 1–3. Reykjavík: Forni.
Jónsson, G. (Ed.). (1953). Íslendinga sögur (2nd ed., Vol. 1–13). Reykjavík: Íslendingasagnaútgáfan.
Jorgensen, P. A. (1975). The two-troll variant of the Bear’s Son folktale in Hálfdanar saga Brönufóstra and Gríms saga loðinkinna. Arv, 31, 35–43.
Jorgensen, P. A. (1986). Additional Icelandic analogues to Beowulf. In R. Simek, et al. (Eds.), Sagnaskemmtun—Studies in honour of Hermann Pálsson on his 65th birthday, 26th May, 1986 (pp. 201–208). Vienna: Hermann Böhlaus.
Klaeber, F. (Ed.). (1950). Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg (3rd ed.). Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company.
McKinnell, J. (2009). The fantasy giantess—Brana in Hálfdanar saga Brǫnufóstra. In A. Ney et al. (Eds.). Fornaldarsagaerne, Myter og virkelighed—Studier i de oldislandske fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda (pp. 201–222). Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanums forlag—The University of Copenhagen.
Niles, J. D. (1983). Beowulf—The poem and its tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Orchard, A. (2003). A critical companion to Beowulf. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.
Stitt, J. M. (1992). Beowulf and the Bear’s Son: Epic, saga, and fairytale in northern Germanic tradition. New York: Garland Publishing.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1936). Beowulf: The monsters and the critics. Proceedings of the British Academy, 22, 245–295.
- Beowulf and the Old Norse Two-Troll Analogues
Volume 97, Issue 3 , pp 541-553
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Two-troll stories
- Legendary sagas (fornaldarsögur)
- Old Norse literature
- Magnús Fjalldal (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of English, The School of Humanities, University of Iceland, Nýi Gardur, Sudurgata, 101, Reykjavík, Iceland