Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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2. Manuals and Guidelines

1. Mini Manual (HB)
2. Manual Supplement 2 (HB)
3. Guidelines supplement (TW)

(2. Manuals and Guidelines > 3. Guidelines supplement)

3. Guidelines supplement (TW)

(subheadings only)

1. Normalisation in fornaldarsǫgur

Conventions of normalisation of the poetry in fornaldarsögur

The question of how and to what chronological standard to normalise poetry in manuscripts of fornaldarsögur is a vexed one, to which there is no fully satisfying answer. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that most of the poetry in these sagas has been recorded in manuscripts of the fourteenth century or later, sometimes much later. Although we may suspect that much of this poetry is old, perhaps very old, we do not know in most cases exactly how old it is. A similar situation exists with the poetry of the Elder Edda, but there at least the manuscripts are of reasonably early date.

Much of the poetry in the fornaldarsaga corpus is metrically irregular and difficult to date on either linguistic or metrical criteria. As a lot of it is in fornyrðislag, it has probably been readily subject to changes, both in oral tradition and in scribal transmission and corruption.

You will have observed that Skj, followed by Skald, have tried to date the poetry in these sagas to a range of dates between the early thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries.

There are some instances in which criteria can be invoked (e. g. linguistic, metrical, lexicographical) to suggest that the poetry is considerably older than the prose context in which it has been recorded, but rarely can we be precise about its age. Furthermore, in some cases we know that forms of certain fornaldarsögur were extant by the late twelfth or early thirteenth centuries (e .g. Snorri Sturluson clearly knew a version of what we know as  Hrólfs saga kraka), but we do not know whether they took a similar form to that in which we know them now, either as regards the poetry or the prose.

In the face of this uncertainty, while at the same time wishing to offer a reasonably conservative text of the poetry in fornaldarsögur, it has seemed best to the General Editors to adopt the following principles of normalisation. We would be grateful if you could follow them when preparing your draft editions, unless of course you have already submitted them. In that case, I will make any necessary alterations.

  1. We advocate a ‘neutral’ dating for the poetry, allowing for the possibility (to be discussed in your Notes) that some of it may be earlier and some later than the standard we recommend of 1250-1300. We have decided against normalising to a fourteenth-century standard (though many of the extant texts probably date from that period) because it would be far more intrusive than normalising to the half-century immediately before 1300.
    Please consult the Editors’ Manual (3rd edn, 2005), pp. 38-42 and the Mini-Manual, pp. 28-30 for normalisation criteria applicable to the period 1250-1300. An example of a poem normalised to the period c.1250-1300 and in eddic-type metre is Sólarljóð in SkP VII, 1, 287-357.
  2. The question arises about whether to restore metrical and alliterative regularity to the poems you are editing to the 1250-1300 standard. Both Skj B and Skald usually do this, but we think the best plan is to leave the poems as they are, but to point out metrical and alliterative irregularities in the Notes, and to use the variant apparatus as much as possible to show how the scribes have altered earlier forms to later ones.
  3. Verbs and pronouns. We do not think you should archaise here, even though this process may restore metrical regularity. However, if one or other of your mss has the ‘correct’ reading, which would restore either metrical or alliterative regularity, then it would be appropriate to emend/normalise.
  4. Proper names (including personal names and place names). These produce a special problem, because they need to be presented in the Translation and sometimes in the Notes as well. We do have a precedent for this, viz. the poetry of Sturla Þórðarson, which is dated to the period 1250-1300 (it will be published next month in SkP II). We decided there to give the 1250-1300 forms of proper names in both the Text and Prose order, but to normalise to 1200-1250 for the Introduction, Translation, Context and Notes (i.e. everywhere except the Text and Prose order). So this means that you would have forms like Hervör and Gjöll in the Text and Prose order, but Hervǫr and Gjǫll in other places in your edition.
  5. In the Introduction to the poetry you are editing for Volume VIII you should discuss briefly both the question of the age of the verse, giving your reasons for thinking as you do, and the conventions of normalisation you have adopted. There will also be a separate section in the Introduction to the whole volume on these subjects, to which you can refer if necessary.

Margaret Clunies Ross,

March 2009.

2. Tarrin’s supplement

The following are supplementary guidelines or clarifications of submission format, where the Manual is unclear or not comprehensive.

1. tmesis in text and prose order
2. adjacent intercalaries in text
3. intercalaries in prose word order
4. in-text references to dictionary entries
5. references to st./l. in other vol.
6. spelling of certain words
7. some additional abbreviations
8. alphabetical order

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