Odin's millennial crisis: Norse mythology and Nordic identities in Janne Teller's Odins ø and Cornelius Jakhelln's Gudenes fall

In this essay, I will discuss the use of elements from Old Norse mythology in two recent novels: Janne Teller’s Odins ø (1999) and Cornelius Jakhelln’s Gudenes fall (2007). In both works, the Norse god Odin is placed in modern, Nordic societies close to the millennial shift, raising questions and debate about (national) identity, history and memory in times of globalization and mass immigration. The works are read from a postnational perspective, in which Homi K. Bhabha’s idea of «writing the nation» serves as a theoretic starting point. Through several examples, I show how both novels deconstruct the idea of a national narrative, by letting pre-national (mythic), national and postnational narratives, symbols and imaginations collide into apocalyptic visions without fixed perspectives or closed endings. The essay also puts these two Nordic examples in the broader perspective of new world literature and migrant literature, in which the shape and content of the (national) self and history is constantly under debate.

Keywords: postnationalism, migrant literature, mythology, globalization, world literature