Talk:Legendary saga

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"extreme saga skepticism" vs extreme saga gullibility?[edit]

The part that now reads: "This has changed recently, however, and there has been a reinstatement of their historical value[4]:

In recent scholarship on the Icelandic sagas, the emphasis has shifted from an older attitude that sought to classify sagas as either history or fiction, but not both, to an approach that allows the two creative impulses, historical and fictional, to coexist in any text in a variable relationship.[5]"

is somewhat unclear, and I assume that there may be some quotation marks missing. If this sentence is the background for the claim that the legendary saga's "historical value has been reinstated", that would be a strange interpretation of the quoted paragraph. Either way, the statement that there has been a "reinstatement" of their historical value gives a very distorted view of how historical scholarship works. It may be that some scholars have claimed that they are historically reliable? It certainly has not become the historical consensus.

Concerning some of Berig's edit summaries - I am somewhat bemused to have my edits referred to as "extreme saga skepticism". In discussions with user:Pieter Kuiper I have advocated the sensible use of sagas as historical sources. I am not an extreme saga skeptic, but I am still a strong opponent of extreme saga gullibility. Also, what Berig calls an "outdated Norwegian source" is in fact a Scandinavian co-operative project, published in Denmark, and the article in question is written in Danish by Einar Ól. Sveinsson, who I assume is an Icelander.

If no one else does, I will probably make edits to this article to reflect the viewpoints I have just stated later. Right now, unfortunately, I don't have the time.Barend 16:26, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Since the name of the book was in Norwegian, I assumed that it was a Norwegian book. You twice demanded that WP needed citations for the fact that the last section of Hervarar saga is used as a source in Swedish historiography. I don't see any reason for doing so but assumption of bad faith on your part or extreme saga scepticism. Since I take for granted that you follow Wikipedia policy and assume good faith, only the last option remains. Since you insisted, I have added modern works that use the Hervarar saga as a historic source. Please, note that the article nowhere states that the legendary sagas are in any way reliable, as a group. Only that modern scholarship accepts that there is a mix of historic elements, especially concerning the time of composition, unlike the mid-20th century work you referred to which minimized them. BTW, "reinstatement" was a typo for "re-statement".--Berig 17:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
There may be a disagreement here about how we should express the question of "historical value" of the sagas. The scholarly consensus is that the legendary sagas contain very little historical truth about the events they portray. This has not changed in recent years, and is not what is being said in the references Berig quotes. What is being said is that the sagas are useful as sources to shed light on the culture in which they were composed - i.e. Iceland in the 13th to 14th centuries, and how that culture looked on the past. This is quite a different thing. I will make an edit to the article reflecting this, which I maintain is the scholarly consensus. If there is disagreement, please bring it up here.Barend 12:24, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I believe that you have misunderstood me. It has never been my intention of presenting the legendary sagas as reliable historic sources in general. There is a reason why they are called "legendary" and some of them are quite imaginative. However, you should not make the generalization of considering the last part of Hervarar saga as the same kind of legendary material as the rest. Moreover, I maintain that it is important to state their historical value as documentation of medieval Icelandic culture (poetry, myths, traditions and legends) in particular and Scandinavian in general.--Berig 12:41, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
In that case, we may be in agreement. I feel that the article, before my last edits, gave the impression that the legendary sagas contain more historical material than they in fact do. I also have the impression that there are editors on wikipedia who seem to hold that view, although you are not one of them. I felt that this needed clarification. --Barend 12:57, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I have written most of the articles on legendary sagas, and so I am familiar with their content. However, this also makes me conscious that they are a very mixed group of sagas where some are pure fiction while others are not. Moreover, I consider them to be valuable primary sources when I write my articles on medieval Scandinavian culture, although they don't compare to runestones or the Poetic Edda. You can see one example of this in the article norn#Legendary sagas.--Berig 13:06, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Historical "truth"?[edit]

After Barend's last edits, I see the word "truth" in several places. I wonder if the word "truth" really appears in Barend's sources or if it is part of Barend's retelling of their content. I don't recall ever having seen the word "truth" in any academic publications (unless part of a discussion on truth-conditional thinking), which is probably due to the fact that what is "truth" is inherently controversial and philosophical.--Berig 14:18, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Two truths. I don't share your antipathy towards the word "truth", but just thinking about discussing it gives me a headache. The two truths have been rephrased to a more accurate translation of the wording in the book. I can't see that it changes the meaning one bit, but there you go.--Barend 15:32, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Much better! :-)--Berig 15:34, 17 October 2007 (UTC)