Kings' Sagas and Norwegian History

Problems and Perspectives


This book is an examination of some of the principal issues arising from the study of the kings’ sagas, the main narrative sources for Norwegian history before c. 1200. Providing an overview of the past two decades of scholarship, it discusses the vexed relationship between verse and prose and the reliability as historical sources of the verse alone or the combination of verse and prose; the possibility and extent of non-native influence on the composition of these texts; and the function of the past, in particular given that most of the historiography of Norway was produced in Iceland. This book aims to stimulate studies of medieval Scandinavian historiography with its critical perspective on the texts and the scholarship, while also providing a useful work of reference in order to make this area of research accessible to scholars in cognate fields.

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Biographical Note
Shami Ghosh, a postdoctoral research fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, received his Ph.D. (Toronto, 2009) with a dissertation on early medieval historiography; with prior publications on medieval German and Scandinavian literature, he is currently studying medieval social and economic history.
Review Quotes
"...Den er full av forfriskende klarhet og analytisk tenkning og er derfor et verdifullt bidrag til studiet av kongesagaene. Selv om avhandlingen er kort, er den en av de mest uttømmende og kritiske vurderingene av kongesagaene som historiske kilder som har blitt skrevet de siste årene...Ghoshs kritiske og vurderende evne øker avhandlingens verdi. Han har lest svært mye, og framstillingen er lett å forstå...Ghosh har derfor gjort studiet av norrøn historiografi en stor tjeneste."
Ármann Jakobsson, Norsk historisk tidsskrift, 2012-3
"...This is a Herculean work and Shami Ghosh's book speaks not only of his stamina, but also of his knowledge and generosity. His engagement with the scholarship is never half-hearted and his criticism always constructive... Kings' Sagas and Norwegian History is a remarkable book for the extensive discussion of contemporary (post-1985) scholarship and the insights it builds from them...highest level of generous and sensitive scholarship..."
Patricia Pires Boulhosa, The Medieval Review, 12.06.11
Scholars and students of medieval Scandinavia, as well as of those interested in medieval historiography, the relationship of oral and written traditions, and the functions of the past.
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