(An occasional feature devoted to our subject’s appearances in the mainstream media, and what becomes of it out in the wider world…)
Iceland has been in the news plenty recently, but only for rather gloomy reasons. You can revisit the old clichés (perpetuated by the new Icelanders themselves, it has to be said) about Icelandic entrepreneurs being the embodiment of the ‘Viking spirit’ in this BBC article from 2006: The Vikings are coming. Or you can wonder, as you read an article like The party’s over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world (Guardian), whether the methods of the original Vikings (unsubtle though they seemed to some) weren’t preferable to the activities of some of their descendants. The hedge-fund has turned out to be a less effective weapon than fire and the sword for subjugating the rest of Europe.
That digression into macro-economics put swiftly aside, it was rather nice to see, also on the Guardian’s site, an article asking whether the Sagas of Icelanders are not Europe’s most important book. The use of the singular in the title seems odd, but the author, Ben Myers, seems to think that we may view the whole corpus as a single unified literary entity. It’s a position I think I’d have trouble defending, but it’s good to see the sagas even being discussed in such a forum.
If you’ve been frustrated by the meagre results that you get when you type “Egill Skallagrímsson” + “Eminem” into Google, help is at hand. The March 2008 issue of The Journal of Popular Culture (not something that I’d normally include in our Journal Round-Ups, necessarily) has an article by Brian Anse Patrick of the University of Michigan, which rejoices in the title ‘Vikings and Rappers: The Icelandic Sagas Hip-Hop across 8 Mile’ (subscription possibly needed to read the whole thing). I just thought you might like to know.