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Landscape of Desire

Partial Stories of the Medieval Scandinavian World

1994
Authors:

Gillian R. Overing and Marijane Osborn

Landscape of Desire

The exhilarating journey of two female scholars is described in this book, which describes their travels as they follow Beowulf’s sea route and explore legendary sites from the Icelandic sagas.

The exhilarating journey of two female scholars is described in this book, which describes their travels as they follow Beowulf’s sea route and explore legendary sites from the Icelandic sagas.

An exhilarating journey across a distant literary landscape, this book takes us to those places described, evoked, or invented in Beowulf and the sagas of Iceland. Chronicling their own travels in Scandinavia, charting the geography of medieval history and fiction, the authors negotiate the complex territory where past and present meet. In this encounter, ancient and modern viewpoints converge, forming a new way into the northern world of medieval literature.

Overing and Osborn use a variety of approaches, borrow from different disciplines, and employ an array of styles to discover and "reinvent" the landscape of these texts. Through their scholarly appraisals and personal encounters, maps and photographs, we accompany them as they follow Beowulf's sea route and travel to Drangey, the remote island in the Saga of Grettir. Here and at numerous other legendary sites, we see how the past is made up of divergent stories told in the present, and how our own histories and desires influence the shape and purpose of those stories.

These experiences and places, imagined and real, frame a new and essentially interdisciplinary space where a conversation among different professional, personal, and cultural viewpoints—a conversation that engages individual desire—can take place. This book will appeal to medievalists, historians, cultural geographers, critical theorists, and those who like to travel, whether in literature or their own good time.

Contents
Introduction
1. Mapping Beowulf
Reinventing Beowulf's voyage to Denmark
Traveling home with Beowulf
2. Geography in the Reader
Place in Question
Iceland and Icelanders
Places in Question
Selves in Place
Places in Translation and the Metonymy of Terrain
3. The Saga of the Saga
The Road to Drangey
Where's Grettir?

Landscape of Desire

Gillian R. Overing is professor of English at Wake Forest University. Marijane Osborn is professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

About This Book