Lively and Well-Researched Account of an Important Literary Strain
With THE VIKING SAGAS, presenter Janina Ramirez is on solid ground. The Icelandic sagas, with their concentration on familial conflicts, could be justifiably regarded as the first soap operas. They began as oral tales designed to pass the time away, as well as provide an antidote to the lengthy night and the spartan lives experienced by many of the citizens in Iceland and the neighboring regions.
Since ancient times, the topography has hardly changed, but the tales have now been committed to paper. They offer a unique insight into ways of life that have seldom changed over thousands of years. They are unlike many other tales that evolved in different parts of Europe at the same time - for example, tales of courtly love - as they focus not on idealized lives but instead on the work of real people.
Ramirez claimed, not without justification, that the sagas were written by women; the clue lies in the attention paid to jewelry and romance. The clue, said Janina, lay in the attention given to costumes, jewelry and romance. On the other hand they were also concerned about their spouses, insisting that arguments should be settled by violent means as well as through legal outlets. Expert Heather O'Donoghue suggested that this modus operandi brought inestimable benefits to the countries the Vikings ruled, including Britain.
Ramirez also suggested that such sagas were the precursor of LORD OF THE RINGS, which might perhaps help to account for their enduring popularity. Her infectious enthusiasm for the subject, coupled with the quality of her interviewees, make this a fascinating program. Congratulations to one and all.
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