By William I Miller

Audun’s tale is the story of an Icelandic farmhand who buys a polar endure in Greenland for no different cause than to provide it to the Danish king, part an international away. it might justly be indexed one of the best items of brief fiction in international literature. Terse within the top saga type, it spins a narrative of advanced aggressive social motion, revealing the cool wit and finely-calibrated reticence of its 3 major characters: Audun, Harald Hardradi, and King Svein. the story must have a lot to have interaction criminal and cultural historians, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, and scholars of literature. The story’s remedy of gift-exchange is useful of the nice anthropological and historic writing on gift-exchange; its remedy of face-to-face interplay a fit for Erving Goffman.

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Extra info for Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largesse in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business

Sample text

This suggests that if Thorir was being generous to Audun he was not being egregiously so, at least as concerns the first passage to Norway and lodging. Apparently the value of the brokering services was admitted by the Norwegians to be quite high and was thus well remunerated. 26 part one Why not sail directly to Greenland from Iceland, buy the bear and get on with the story? The author is more than merely filling time to make his story last three years so as to give Audun a truthful and acceptable excuse when he declines Svein’s offer to stay on in Denmark as his cupbearer.

There are slight variations in the wording of this particular account in these three versions of Haralds saga; Heimskringla, for instance, adds that the performances also took place before Harald’s sons. 12 All three principal versions of Haralds saga preserve the account; see M ch. 50. For other examples of Harald as literary critic see M chs 21, 40, 43–44, 47, and as a skald himself, M ch. 13; in F he is called a “good skald”; Sarcastic-Halli’s Story, ch. 1 (ÍF 9:261–295), for which see below n15.

30n4. ” What we can see Audun doing when he pleads his case before the king is in fact fully in accord with his agreement with Aki; he is presenting, in a way that Aki did not foresee, information relevant to setting the price of their respective interests by letting the king know that the price determination should also make allowances for Aki’s wrongs, for his having horned in on the gift. In categories we would employ now, what Audun is doing is moving what Aki thought was purely a contractual claim into the realm of tort.

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