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'why Is Your Axe Bloody?'


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Table of Contents

Heather O'Donoghue: Foreword Preface Introduction Njala's Unity Problem and the Very Beginning Marriage Formation and Dissolution Making a Scene Looking Forward: Njal's Prescience Bergthora vs. Hallgerd, Part I, the theory Bergthora vs. Hallgerd, Part II, some facts Otkel vs. Gunnar Gunnar vs. the Thrihyrning people The Two Thorgeirs and Death of Gunnar Revenge for Gunnar The Atlantic Interlude and Hrapp Setting up Thrain A Tale of Two Hoskulds Conversion and the Genius of the Law Valgard the Wise and Hoskuld's Blood Skarphedin Ascendans, Flosi's Ninth Nights The Burning Preparation for the next Althing The Trial of Flosi and the Battle Kari and Friends How Not To End a Saga Unless A Conclusion: Justice and Exits Works Cited

About the Author

William Ian Miller is the Thomas G. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on the bloodfeud, especially as it is manifested in saga Iceland. Previous works include Bloodtaking and Peacemaking (1990), Eye for an Eye (2006), Audun and the Polar Bear (2008). He has also written about emotions, mostly unpleasant ones involving self-assessment, and various vices and virtues. Thus his books: The Anatomy of Disgust (1997), The Mystery of Courage (2000), Humiliation (1993), Faking It (2003), and most recently Losing It (2011) about the loss of mental acuity that comes with age, which includes a non-negligible share of saga matter and some from biblical Israel too. He is also Honorary Professor of History at the University of St. Andrews, and has been a Visiting Professor over the years at Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Bergen, and Tel Aviv.


[This] very readable and stimulating book opens our minds to the world of the sagas, the minds of their characters, and of Njals saga in particular, and leaves us admiring a thrilling reading in which the professor of law engages us with the saga more successfully than many a literary critic. * Judith Jesch, Times Literary Supplement *
Here Miller is an astute guide, explaining (as the saga-author doesn't) what the fixers and the wise men of Iceland must have been thinking. * Tom Shippey, London Review of Books *
Brilliant. Miller's impressive reading of this Icelandic masterpiece is thought provoking, informative, entertaining, challenging, and thoroughly delightful. Those new to the saga will be enthralled, and those already familiar with it will find something new here. Miller seamlessly weaves the reading of NjA!ls Saga with his knowledge of medieval Icelandic law and society, demonstrating his mastery of the subject while highlighting his admiration of the saga and its anonymous author. Miller explores the subtle genius of the saga and explains it to modern readers with rare insight. Miller's knowledge and love of NjA!ls Sag and his wit in discussing it, make this a rare and thoroughly successful reading of the work. He is a truly gifted scholar. * A. E. Leykam, CHOICE *
I cannot imagine an academic text which I would have had as much pleasure quarrelling with as assenting to, nor an author more able than Miller to enlighten, surprise, and delight expert and lay readers alike. * Slavica Rankovic, Modern Language Review *

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