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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. VII. Poetry on Christian Subjects
 

8. Introduction

 
1. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages – a New Edition (MCR)
2. The Corpus of Medieval Icelandic Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
3. Genres of Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
4. Manuscripts (MCR)
5. Poets and their Audiences (MCR)
6. History of Scholarship and Reception of Christian Skaldic Poetry (MCR)
7. Verse-forms and Diction of Christian Skaldic Verse (MCR)
8. The Treatment of Foreign Learned Words and Foreign Personal Names in Skaldic Poetry (KEG)
9. Normalisation of Fourteenth-Century Poetry (KEG)
10. How to use this Edition (MCR)

(Vol. VII. Poetry on Christian Subjects > 8. Introduction > 10. How to use this Edition)

10. How to use this Edition (MCR)

SkP is intended for a variety of users: for students and scholars of Old Norse and other medieval European languages and literatures, for scholars in cognate disciplines such as history, archaeology, the history of religion, and comparative literature, and for users whose primary interest is in skaldic poetry. In view of its likely augmented readership, SkP contains a greater proportion of introductory and explanatory material than is to be found in most previous editions, certainly in comparison with Skj, where it is minimal. Most of the explanatory material is to be found in the Introductions to poems, including the skald biographies, which appear at the head of the oeuvre of named skalds whose authorship of poetry is known;[21] in the context sections, which indicate the wider prose context(s) in which a verse or set of verses has been preserved (there are few of these in Volume 7, as most Christian poems are not embedded in prose texts); and in the notes to each stanza.

Each poem, single verse (lausavísa) or fragment has a distinct siglum in SkP, which in many cases is different from that used in Skj and in the list at the beginning of Lexicon Poeticum 1931 (LP). A comparative table of sigla used in SkP, Skj and LP is included in the introductory part of each volume of SkP. The text of each poem, single verse or fragment has been established by its editor on the foundation of a base manuscript, judged by the editor to be the best or (in some cases) the only witness to the probable original. The text will have been normalised to the standard appropriate to its probable date of origin.[22] Below the stanza is the same text rendered in a prose order, and underneath that is an English translation. As far as possible, the translation provides a version close to the sense of the Icelandic text. Unlike most other translations of skaldic poetry, kennings are here given their full sense value, that is, both base-word and determinant are translated and the referent, not being part of the actual text but implicit in it, is given in small capitals within square brackets after each kenning. Referents of one category of kennings, which refer to specific individuals, are given within square brackets in lower case preceded by an = sign, in order to indicate that these referents are literally equivalent to the periphrasis of base-word and determinant within the text. For example, ‘the son of Óðinn’ is designated [= Þórr] and ‘lord of the heavens’ [= God]. Angle brackets within the English translation are used to provide the generic sense value of Old Norse mythological names, such as Hildr <valkyrie> or alternative poetic names for mythological beings, such as Viðurr <= Óðinn>. In the latter case, an = sign appears to the left of the ‘normal’ name.

The editorial apparatus allows the reader to compare the edited version of the base manuscript with the text in other manuscript witnesses. A reference is also given to the text’s designation in Skj B, comprising the poet’s name (if any) as given there, the title of the poem or fragment and equivalent stanza number. The Mss line lists the base manuscript first in bold type, followed by the other manuscript witnesses in assumed chronological order, each with folio or page number in round brackets immediately following. Paper manuscripts are distinguished from those of parchment or vellum by having a superscript ˣ after the manuscript siglum. Where the poetic text is found in more than one prose source, abbreviated reference to that source is given in italics within round brackets immediately after the group of manuscripts representing that source.

Only significant manuscript variants, not simple orthographical variants or standard normalisations are given in the Readings line, unless the unnormalised manuscript reading is regarded as significant for some reason or cannot be normalised, in which case it is placed within inverted commas. Where variants are given, the lemma (the reading of the base manuscript) is given first, followed by the readings of other manuscripts, separated from the lemma by a colon. In cases where the editor has not followed the base manuscript, the reading of another manuscript is in first place, followed by a colon, and the formula ‘so X’, to indicate that this is not the reading of the base manuscript.

The Editions line lists all significant previous editions of the text, beginning with Skj, Skald and NN, and followed by other editions, usually in chronological order, giving their date of publication, and the page upon which the verse in question appears.

The Notes are intended to address significant phonological, metrical, lexicographical and above all interpretative issues as well as questions of a broader contextual nature. Although the editors do not aim to give a comprehensive history of scholarship and previous editorial practice, significant editorial interpretations and emendations are discussed and evaluated in the Notes. On the matter of emendation, this edition is more conservative than most of its predecessors. All emended text, that is, letters or words that have no manuscript attestation, are given in italics. Where editors have omitted letters or words that are present in the manuscripts, the symbol * appears in the text and prose order. Purely conjectural emendation, where the editor conjectures what might have existed in a defective text in the absence of evidence in support, is usually avoided in SkP, though previous editors’ conjectures may be mentioned in the Notes. However, if there are metrical or other forms of evidence within the text that support a proposed emendation, this may be adopted and justified by the editor. A sample verse with graphic explanations of the main features of the edition appears in the endpapers to Volume 7.

All abbreviated references to editions are expanded in the bibliography at the end of the volume. Abbreviated references to manuscripts are explained in the Introduction to each poem, when the manuscripts are first mentioned, while abbreviated references to prose sources also appear in the bibliography, as do references to secondary literature given in the notes to each stanza. General abbreviations used in this volume, aside from those that are very common, like e.g. and cf., are listed separately, while technical terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader are also glossed.

Notes

[21]   One of the biographies relevant to Volume 7 poetry, that of Einarr Skúlason, composer of Geisli, appears in Volume 2.

[22]   A full discussion of normalisation in the edition as a whole is in the Introduction to SkP in Volume I. Section 9 above covers only the fourteenth century. The actual orthography of the base manuscript for each poem can be seen in the transcripts available in the electronic edition, where images of the manuscripts are also available.

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