Place-names in Icelandic literature

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Matthias Egeler (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munchen)
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Icelandic narrative prose literature, whose earliest surviving works stem from the twelfth century and which flourished throughout the Middle Ages, as well as the more recent folk storytelling amply documented from the nineteenth century onwards, show a deep fascination with place-names that entails a complex narrative engagement with the real-world toponymy of Iceland (Lethbridge 2016). The intensity of this engagement is exceptional within medieval literature, though not unparalleled, and probably has two main sources, one linguistic and one cultural.

Its linguistic source lies in the nature of Icelandic toponymy: generally, Icelandic place-names are straightforward compounds whose meaning is easily intelligible to a native speaker (Þórhallur Vilmundarson 1991; Bandle 1977). For

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Citation: Egeler, Matthias. "Place-names in Icelandic literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 April 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19710, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19710 Place-names in Icelandic literature 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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