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Literature and honour
Aasta Marie Bjorvand Bjørkøy & Thorstein Norheim (red.)
Open access
Vitenskapelig publikasjon
Forhåndspublisering
Innhold Bokbeskrivelse Referanse
Open access
(side 13-34)
av Thorstein Norheim og Aasta Marie Bjorvand Bjørkøy
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article gives an introduction to the concept of honour, which is explored theoretically, with references to the most prominent researchers in the field, as well as historically, in order to reveal the concept’s main transformations in Scandinavian culture. In addition, the article gives a short introduction to the rest of the articles in the book.

Part 1: History of the decline of honour culture in the West
Open access
(side 37-56)
av Jon Gunnar Jørgensen
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article examines the prevailing honour code in two Old Norse sagas, namely one saga about early Icelanders, the saga of Gisle Sursson, Gisla saga Súrssonar and one dealing with events from a late medieval society, the saga of Torgils and Havlide, Ϸorgils saga ok Hafliða. Jørgensen shows how honour functions as a driving force behind human actions, but also how the honour code changes with the transition from the old honour culture to the nascent Christian society.

Open access
3  The Price of Integrity
Conceptions of honour in Egil’s saga
(side 57-80)
av Simen Syvertsen
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article gives a detailed examination of honour performances in another saga about early Icelanders written in the 13th century. Although the old and masculine honour code is strongly expressed, the saga – as it is written in a period of transition – also contains Christian values, which produce a more ethically oriented and individualized honour concept.

Open access
4  Honour, sagas and trauma
Reflections on literature and violence in 13th century Iceland
(side 81-94)
av Torfi H. Tulinius
Sammendrag

Abstract

It has long been recognized that the mechanisms of an honour-based society are expressed in the narrative form of the Íslendingasögur, or Sagas about early Icelanders as they are called. These sagas were written in the thirteenth century but the events described are supposed to have taken place in the ninth and tenth centuries. I will briefly discuss the findings of several scholars on this question and then widen the discussion to the contemporary sagas which were composed in the same period but relate contemporary events. Though the latter sagas are more bound by detail and reality in what they describe, they also reveal the same structures of revenge. They also reflect the concerns of a society which is going through an exceptionally violent period in its history. Some of the texts show a deep understanding of the effects of trauma on the human psyche. In the main part of my paper, I will suggest how this understanding finds expression in the more literary compositions of the Sagas of Icelanders, some of which may be understood as efforts to reconstruct a troubled identity in traumatic times.

Open access
5  The value of the face
Face, fear, flaw and shame in an Irish king’s saga
(side 95-102)
av Jan Erik Rekdal
Sammendrag

Abstract

Rekdal presents a reading of one Old Irish King saga, Echtra Fergusa maic Léti. Rekdal concentrates on an important honour motive in literature: how honour and shame are connected to the human face and bodily descriptions. Rekdal interprets the tale as an exposition of the meaning and implications of honour-price: The fact that the honour price of a person refers to a word for face underscores how central both face and façade are to honour and to shame; a king whose face is tarnished is no longer fit to rule his kingdom.

Part 2: The individualisation of the concept of honour
Open access
6  After Honor
From Egil Skallagrimsson to Karl Ove Knausgård
(side 105-128)
av Per Thomas Andersen
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article presents how Christianity acquired the notion of honor and that internal honor played as important a role as external honor – at least in the culture of Chivalry and the Victorian gentleman culture. The revaluation in Christian cultures of internal honor leads to the individualization of Western cultural values as well as the decline of Western honor culture. Andersen stresses that modern warfare more or less puts an end to honor culture in the West.

Open access
(side 129-144)
av Anne-Marie Mai
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article has the conceptions of honour in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879/1889) as its springboard, includes the concept of honour in Thit Jensen’s novels about the modern, emancipated woman Gerd. Det tyvende Aarhundredes Kvinde (Gerd. Woman of the 20th century, 1918) and Aphrodite fra Fuur (Aphrodite from Fuur, 1925), then focuses on the concept of honour in Suzanne Brøgger’s collection of essays Kærlighedens veje og vildveje (Love’s Paths and Pitfalls, 1975) and compares it with Pablo Llambías’ rewriting of the work from a male point of view in Kærlighedens veje og vildveje (Love’s Paths and Pitfalls, 2009).

Open access
8  ‘His name is man!’
The chieftain hero as type and topos in Norway around 1900
(side 145-169)
av Mads Breckan Claudi
Sammendrag

Abstract

With a historical and cultural approach to literature and poetry, Claudi demonstrates the English writer Thomas Carlyle’s influence on individual authors, e.g. Kristofer Uppdal, but also how it inspired a collective of poets, including Tore Ørjasæter and Olav Nygard. Claudi indicates that such an individual and person-oriented progressive movement as the chief cult eventually came into discredit in the wake of both World War II and changed conceptions in modern research of how history develops.

Open access
(side 170-186)
av Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg
Sammendrag

Abstract

The initial purpose of this article is to explore the variegated negotiations of notions of ‘honour’ in an historical setting, and a multitude of generic registers, extending from Cervantes to Al-Qaeda, and by implication Daesh/The Islamic State. The second, but central aim is to suggest that a specific, affective logic is at work across apparently widely different works and phenomena, namely the way in which failed intersubjective or political recognition results in various types of metaphoric and literal warfare, in the hope of gaining ‘honour’.

Part 3: Honour in the late modern welfare state
Open access
10  ‘At dead of night’
Abo Rasul’s Macht und Rebel as dystopia and story of honour
(side 189-216)
av Thorstein Norheim
Sammendrag

Abstract

The novel is read as a literary dystopia and an honour narrative by suggesting that the misanthropy in the novel and the Marcussian repressive tolerance of the welfare state, are dystopian expressions of the lack of traditional honour culture. The novel tries to oppose this by its main plot: the depiction of the two protagonists’ radical and rebellious resistance work. This is seen as a utopian initiative, promoted by the need to revitalise a kind of traditional honour culture.

Open access
(side 217-233)
av Cecilie Takle
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article portrays the coherence of ethics and the dichotomy honour/shame, and she shows how the fantastic in literature is highly relevant in exploring ethics in literature. Takle’s argument is supported by examples from the Norwegian trilogy The Raven Rings (2013–2015) by Siri Pettersen and the Shamer Chronicle (2000–2003) by Lene Kaaberbøl. Takle also demonstrates why the fantasy genre may play an important educational role for the individual and for democracy.

Open access
12  To Age With Honour
Charlotte Strandgaard’s Welfare State Poetry of Ageing in No Man’s Land
(side 234-248)
av Peter Simonsen
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article provides a reading of Charlotte Strandgaard’s collection of poetry, No Man’s Land (2015), as a piece of Danish welfare state poetry. This collection of poetry articulates certain anxieties associated with maintaining one’s honour as an elderly woman in the contemporary welfare state that embraces economic values of speed, efficiency, growth and (re)productivity. In the welfare state the elderly are kept out of traditional functions. In a utilitarian sense, they feel useless, and it becomes difficult to ‘age with honour’ in the sense of maintaining their sense of dignity as an effect of maintaining their personal autonomy.

Open access
13  Ageing and dignity
Stories of old age from the welfare state
(side 249-274)
av Aasta Marie Bjorvand Bjørkøy
Sammendrag

Abstract

Uniform treatment of the elderly (those over 65) is neither worthy nor fair. This article examines how the elderly are depicted as well as treated in the short story ‘Ingenting hendt’ (2000) by Bjarte Breiteig and the novel Så høyt var du elsket (2011) by Nikolaj Frobenius. Bjørkøy presents what forms of honour are addressed in these literary texts, and what existential issues may arise when we grow old, retired and sick in the Norwegian welfare state.

Open access
14  For honour’s sake
On honour and gender in Nasim Karim’s Izzat
(side 275-295)
av Johanne Walle Jomisko de Figueiredo
Sammendrag

Abstract

This article discusses the problems that arise in the encounter between an intact honour culture (Pakistani) and a weakened honour culture (Norwegian). In the novel Izzat (1996) honour performances are largely connected to the question of gender, and de Figueiredo examines particularly the conflict unfolding in the relationship between father and daughter.

Open access
(side 296-322)
av Nasim Karim
Sammendrag

Abstract

Honour-related violence is the subject of this article, which is based upon Nasim Karim’s Master’s thesis in jurisprudence, Partnerdrap – familietragedie eller æresdrap (2015). Karim discusses sentencing in partner homicides. This article supplements Figueiredo’s contribution. The two murder cases Karim discusses take place in locations in Norway, and both murders are committed by the spouse. Nevertheless, the first case is designated as an honour killing, while the other case is referred to as a family tragedy.

What is honour, and how does it affect our lives? In contemporary Western cultures, honour seems to have lost its dominant role as a key concept for denoting central dynamics of human life, both individually and socially. In the Scandinavian countries, a slow revolution has taken place throughout history from the strong Norse honour culture to the post-war egalitarian and equality-oriented welfare society which appears to be an after-honour culture. What are the reasons for this weakening, and what are its consequences? Are we living with new forms of honour, and what does it mean to live in an after-honour culture?

The focal point and chief target of the discussions is literature, primarily Scandinavian, but also other textual expressions. The book is aimed at readers interested in literature, but the topic is interdisciplinary and should therefore appeal to a wider audience. 

This volume emanates from the project After Honour, initiated by the research group Literature and Affect at Institute of Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo. The 15 articles are written by scholars from Norway, Denmark and Iceland: Per Thomas Andersen, Aasta Marie Bjorvand Bjørkøy, Mads B. Claudi, Johanne Walle Jomisko de Figueiredo, Jon Gunnar Jørgensen, Anne-Marie Mai, Thorstein Norheim, Nasim Karim, Jan Erik Rekdal, Peter Simonsen, Simen Syvertsen, Cecilie Takle, Torfi H. Tulinius and Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg.

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