Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 197–210 | Cite as

Wayward Warriors: The Viking Motif in Swedish and English Children’s Literature

  • Björn Sundmark
Original Paper


In this article the Viking motif in children’s literature is explored—from its roots in (adult) nationalist and antiquarian discourse, over pedagogical and historical texts for children, to the eventual diversification (or dissolution) of the motif into different genres and forms. The focus is on Swedish Viking narratives, but points of comparison are established with Viking children’s literature in the English-speaking world. Differences and similarities are pointed out, but more importantly, patterns of reciprocity and influence are examined. Finally, it is shown how international representations of Vikings to a growing extent have replaced the ones that are nationally and regionally determined. The Viking has ultimately become a deracinated and commodified symbol: a free-floating signifier and a wayward warrior.


Vikings Nationalism Icelandic Sagas Esaias Tegnér Frans G. Bengtsson Runer Jonsson 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EducationMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden

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