Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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Traditional ballads are epic poems relating stories or individual episodes of known narratives and literary works, as attested by their Icelandic name,


(lit. “narrative dances”). They were chanted as an accompaniment to dancing, and Nordic ballads are thus primarily descended from common European folk dancing and ballad traditions, as ballads seem to emerge among Western European nations between the 12th and the 14th centuries. While it is difficult to say when the first Nordic ballads were composed, it is natural to assume that this happened when, or shortly after, such poetry came into fashion in the more southerly parts of Europe. It has been argued, for example, that the Icelandic ballad

Tristrams kvæði

, was composed as early as the 14th century, and it is usually…

2133 words

Citation: Guðmundsdóttir, Aðalheiður. "Sagnadansar". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 September 2022 [, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19647 Sagnadansar 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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