Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Eric Bryan (Missouri University of Science and Technology)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error


Loftur Þorsteinsson, also known as Galdra-Loftur [Loftur the Magician], is a well-known figure of Icelandic folklore. Loftur’s fame in Iceland is due not least to the nature and circumstances of his death as it is described in the Icelandic folk stories of


, magicians. From an international perspective, the folk stories about this mysterious and tragic figure must be said to possess a loosely Faustian sentiment. Like Faust, Galdra-Loftur deals with the powers of darkness to attain a forbidden knowledge and power; like Faust, Loftur uses his power to do indiscriminate harm; and like Faust (at least in the earliest versions), Loftur’s misdeeds are great enough that redemption is not possible, and he loses his eternal soul in the end. Similarities with Faust, however, only go…

1911 words

Citation: Bryan, Eric. "Galdra-Loftur". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 November 2023 [, accessed 23 June 2024.]

19674 Galdra-Loftur 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.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.