Isolated Islands

Isolated Islands

Torstein Jørgensen
Gerhard Jaritz
Series: CEU Medievalia
Volume: 14
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 154
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbn67
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  • Book Info
    Isolated Islands
    Book Description:

    Focuses specifically on the concept and role of islands in the medieval world. The main characteristic of an island is, of course, that of being isolated from the rest of the world; in geography by waters, in more abstract and symbolic meanings by other kinds of separating borders. Islands were the place ‘on the other side’, of difference, otherness and remoteness. As one of the articles in this volume puts it, islands are often depicted “as sites for extraordinary events and happenings”.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-25-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. 1-2)
    Torstein Jørgensen and Gerhard Jaritz
  5. PARADISE ISLANDS IN THE EAST AND WEST – TRADITION AND MEANING IN SOME CARTOGRAPHICAL PLACES ON THE MEDIEVAL RIM OF THE WORLD
    (pp. 3-22)
    Felicitas Schmieder

    Paradise was, in Christian medieval thinking, a special and meaningful place, both in time and in space: It had been there since the very beginning of history when God created it as a home for the first human beings – and would still be there at history’s very end. Revelations 2:7 alludes to its role at the end of all times, promising

    He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God....

  6. THE POWERS AND PURPOSES OF AN INSULAR SETTING – ON SOME MOTIFS IN OLD-NORSE LITERATURE
    (pp. 23-35)
    Kristel Zilmer

    The narrative representation of islands in Old Norse literature was shaped by various literary and cultural layers and born out of practical and symbolic, but also deeper, cognitive purposes. It has been argued previously that such imagery can highlight traditional Nordic cultural experiences, while at the same time conducting a dialogue with a medieval European understanding on the meaning of islands.¹ The analysis of examples derived from Old Norse prose and poetry has shown that, on the one hand, a pragmatic rationale exists behind certain island-related scenes in terms of mapping strategic sites along the characters’ travel routes or within...

  7. MONASTIC “ISLANDS” IN MEDIEVAL DENMARK: INSULAR ISOLATION IN IDEAL AND PRACTICE
    (pp. 36-44)
    Johnny Grandjean Gøgsig Jakobsen

    Every now and then, when I am asked to describe the medieval monastery, there are several ways to do so. One of them is to make use of the topic of these conference proceedings: Islands! Islands isolated in more than one sense. For medieval religiosi – the monks, canons regular, friars and nuns – the monastery (or the abbey, priory or nunnery) constituted a sort of haven, an enclosed area within this world which rightfully belonged to another world. For my students or when addressing an audience at an open lecture, I usually make a comparison with present-day embassies, physically located in...

  8. RELIGIOUS ATHLETES – ON THE PERCEPTION OF THE BODY IN MEDIEVAL ASCETICISM
    (pp. 45-56)
    Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen

    This article will not deal with sports or athletics in the modern meanings of these terms. Rather, I propose to consider religious men and women of the Middle Ages as using the capacities and strengths of their human bodies to achieve a religious goal, almost like professional athletes and sports people do nowadays. I aim to show how the body was in fact a decisive “target area” for religious achievements. In their own understanding, the religious athletes would – through different kinds of asceticism and numerable kinds of bodily mortifications – work to bring themselves nearer to God. The playground for this,...

  9. HOLY ISLANDS AND THE OTHERWORLD: PLACES BEYOND WATER
    (pp. 57-80)
    Eldar Heide

    In this article I attempt to demonstrate that there is a connection between holy islands and notions of an Otherworld beyond water. I believe that the essence of holy islands is their location on the other side of water. One has to cross water to get there and in this respect holy islands are parallel to the Otherworld, which often is placed beyond water, horizontally or vertically. The liminality of certain islands seems to be related to this; they resemble the Otherworld but are located in this world. Thus, they have an intermediate position and are ideal as points of...

  10. HVÍTRAMANNALAND AND OTHER FICTIONAL ISLANDS IN THE SEA
    (pp. 81-87)
    Else Mundal

    Several Old Icelandic texts mention a place in the Atlantic Ocean called Hvítramannaland, “the land of white men.” This land is mentioned in Eiríks saga rauða,¹ ch. 12; Landnámabók² (Sturlubók, ch. 122 and Hauksbók, ch. 94); and in Eyrbyggja saga,³ ch. 64, a land – or island – in the same location, southwest of Ireland and close to Vínland, is mentioned.

    Eiríks saga rauða tells how Karlsefni and his crew, on their way back from Vínland to Greenland, in a place which they called Markland – somewhere on the coast of North America – found five skrælingar, the Old Norse word for the natives...

  11. THE UNKNOWN ISLAND
    (pp. 88-96)
    Margaret Elphinstone

    In a short story by José Saramego called, “The Tale of the Unknown Island,” a man goes to the king and boldly asks for a boat so that he can go in search of the unknown island:

    What unknown island, asked the king, suppressing his laughter as if he had before him one of those utter madmen obsessed with sea voyages, whom it would be as well not to cross, at least not straight away. The unknown island, the man said again, Nonsense, there are no more unknown islands, Who told you, sir, that there are no more unknown islands,...

  12. WILL THE SON OF NINE SISTERS RULE THE SEA-KIDNEY?
    (pp. 97-110)
    Bernt Øyvind Thorvaldsen

    According to Laxdæla Saga, a wedding feast took place in Hjarðarholt on Iceland a couple of decades before the Icelanders officially converted to Christianity. Óláfr Hǫskuldsson, the bride’s father, had built a splendid new hall with wall carvings:

    One of the guests at the feast was Ulf Uggason, who composed a poem about Olaf Hǫskuldsson and the carved legends depicted in the hall, and this poem he recited at the feast; it is called the ‘House Lay’, and is an excellent poem.¹

    The few stanzas of The House Lay which are preserved are not quoted in the saga, but in...

  13. THE QUALITY OF ISLANDS IN MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN LITERATURE
    (pp. 111-119)
    Gerhard Jaritz

    Medieval literature can open up insights into any constructed values and qualities shared by a society or by specific groups in a society. One must be aware of the fact that all these values have to be seen as representations or reflections of positive or negative connotations that cannot, however, be taken as ‘realities’ of life. This must, in particular, be considered for those aspects of texts and contexts that might be seen as parts of the authors’ and the recipients’ quotidianity, where the contents of the texts sound especially ‘realistic,’ as having been taken from the author’s and his...

  14. SEASONAL ISOLATION IN THE COMMUNICATION IN LIVONIA
    (pp. 120-127)
    Juhan Kreem

    Being isolated seems to be in the nature of every island. Isolation creates islands. On the other hand, the title of our workshop, “Isolated Islands,” when not pleonastic, implies that there are islands which are isolated and there are others which are not. In the medieval communication network on the Baltic some islands, rather than being isolated backwaters, were crossroads of international trade. The most prominent example among them is Gotland. Speaking in more general terms, Livonia, which is geographically part of the continent, was an island overseas from the Hanseatic perspective or from the perspective of the Holy Roman...

  15. UTSTEIN MONASTERY: AN ISLAND ON AN ISLAND – OR NOT?
    (pp. 128-138)
    Torstein Jørgensen

    In spite of today’s sub-sea tunnels and bridges connecting today’s Klosterøy with the Norwegian mainland, there is no doubt that Utstein Monastery is geographically situated on an island. But what did this kind of location mean for the community who once established themselves in this monastic institution? Did they seek this place as an escape from the current and busy life of the town and of society at large? Did the people who settled at Utstein belong to the tradition of monastic groups who sought some remote refuge in the wilderness for the sake of quietness and isolation? What kind...

  16. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 139-139)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 140-146)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 147-147)