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Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largesse in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business (Medieval Law and Its Practice) Hardcover – July 25, 2008


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In the Neighborhood: Women's Publication in Early America by Caroline Wigginton
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Editorial Reviews

Review

a virtuoso display Miller's analysis draws out strand after rich strand from this fine yarn Complicated? Thought provoking? Yes, and more: this comes pretty darn close to sublime ... Miller's is likely to be the last word for a long while on this crafty little tale, Oren Falk in "The Medieval Review", 11 March 2009 The book should amply succeed in its objective to interest a readership both within saga studies and in the wider fields of legal and cultural history, anthropology, economic ethnography, sociology, and philosophy. The attr at its centre should with Miller s advocacy acquire the wider audience it deserves; it of course needs no advertisement where saga aficionados are concerned. In sum, we can be grateful to Miller for his acumen, his learning, his tenacity, and (all-important) his clarity in demonstrating that so apparently simple a story can accommodate such a wealth of meaning. Review by Russell Poole, University of Western Ontario In "Scandinavian-Canadian Studies" 20 (2011) 120-123"

Miller's analysis draws out strand after rich strand from this fine yarn Miller's interpretations of Audun's Story and a handful of other short Norse narratives .. are superlative. Miller again shows himself in this book to be sensitive to every nuance of Iceland's matchless literary corpus--a literature that is "character and strategy all the way down" (76). By the time he pronounces on the thattr's resolution, "This is sublime" (64), there is neither hyperbole nor bathos in his statement: the reader sees precisely what motivates his rapture and can only concur with his judgment Complicated? Thought provoking? Yes, and more: this comes pretty darn close to sublime ... For better or worse--for better--Miller's is likely to be the last word for a long while on this crafty little tale. Oren Falk, "The Medieval Review," 11 March 2009 [Miller s] reading of the Audun episode is one of the most extensive I have seen of such a small narrative and it is inspiring how confi-dently he allows himself ample time and space for it Miller is much concerned with social rules and tends to demystify concepts such as luck without ever sounding banal or reductionist. Indeed one of his main goals seems to be to allow the narrative to keep its charm when treated very thoroughly. And he is extremely thorough, although never unnecessarily so Although it will probably not attract as big as an audience as Miller s previous books owing to its Old Norse theme, those who are not put off will reap the rewards. And those already involved in Old Norse can welcome Miller s impressive return to a field he never really left. Armann Jakobsson, "Saga Book of the Viking Society," vol. XXXIV, 2010 Audun and the Polar Bear is an excellent book that shows how a deep knowledge of folk culture can explain a literary text. It should be read by anyone with an interest in the study of folklore and literature, folk law, folk custom, or medieval Iceland and Scandinavia. David Elton Gay, "Journal of Folklore Resea

...Miller er i hopi utvalinna fraeoimanna sem naemast auga hafa fyrir frumtexta og tulkun hans, og kunna ao miola hugsun sinni annig ao laeroum jafnt sem leikum opnast nyjar dyr... Bokin ber meo ser astriou fyrir islenskum mioaldabokmenntum, fyrir samspili texta og samfelags, fyrir kenjum og kostum mannlegrar hegounar, fyrir margraeoi tjaningarinnar, fyrir heiori einstaklingsins og fyrir kaldhaeoni valdsins. ... Her er skolabokardaemi um hvernig stuttur og afmarkaour texti getur jonao sem umraeouvettvangur fyrir emu sem hafa mun almennara gildi... Mesta syndin vaeri ao fara a mis vio [Miller]; bokinn er gorsemi." [Miller belongs to a group of chosen scholars who have the most sensitive eye for an original text and its interpretation, and he knows how to deliver his thought so that new doors open to scholar and general reader alike ... The book shows a passion for Icelandic medieval literature, for the interrelation of text and society, for the vagaries of human behavior, for the ambiguities of expression, for distinctly drawn individuals and for the cold irony of power ... Here is a textbook example of how a short and sharply framed text can serve as a platform for discussion of themes that have wide-ranging significance... it would be the greatest of sins to miss out on Miller; the book is a treasure.] Vioar Palsson, "Saga" (Timarit Sogufelags) XLIX: 1 (2011) 175-186 Miller's analysis draws out strand after rich strand from this fine yarn Miller's interpretations of Audun's Story and a handful of other short Norse narratives .. are superlative. Miller again shows himself in this book to be sensitive to every nuance of Iceland's matchless literary corpus--a literature that is "character and strategy all the way down" (76). By the time he pronounces on the thattr's resolution, "This is sublime" (64), there is neither hyperbole nor bathos in his statement: the reader sees precisely what motivates his rapture and can only concur with his judgment Complicated? Thought provoking? Yes, and more: this comes pretty darn close to sublime ... For better or worse--for better--Miller's is likely to be the last word for a long while on this crafty little tale. Oren Falk, "The Medieval Review," 11 March 2009 [Miller s] reading of the Audun episode is one of the most extensive I have seen of such a small narrative and it is inspiring how confi-dently he allows himself ample time and space for it Miller is much concerned with social rules and tends to demystify concepts such as luck without ever sounding banal or reductionist. Indeed one of his main goals seems to be to allow the narrative to keep its charm when treated very thoroughly. And he is extremely thorough, although never unnecessarily so Although it will probably not attract as big as an audience as Miller s previous books owing to its Old Norse theme, those who are not put off will reap the rewards. And those already involved in Old Norse can welcome Miller s impressive return to a field he never really left. Armann Jakobsson, "Saga Book of the Viking Society," vol. XXXIV, 2010 Audun and the Polar Bear is an excellent book that shows how a deep knowledge of folk culture can explain a literary text. It should be read by anyone with an interest in the study of folklore and literature, folk law, folk custom, or medieval Iceland and Scandinavia. David Elton Gay, "Journal of Folklore Research Reviews," March 23, 2010 The book should amply succeed in its objective to interest a readership both within saga studies and in the wider fields of legal and cultural history, anthropology, economic ethnography, sociology, and philosophy. The attr at its centre should with Miller s advocacy acquire the wider audience it deserves; it of course needs no advertisement where saga aficionados are concerned. In sum, we can be grateful to Miller for his acumen, his learning, his tenacity, and (all-important) his clarity in demonstrating that so apparently simple a story can accommodate such a wealth of meaning. Russell Poole, "Scandinavian-Canadian Studies," 20 (2011) 120-123"

From the Back Cover

Auduna (TM)s Story is the tale of an Icelandic farmhand who buys a polar bear in Greenland for no other reason than to give it to the Danish king, half a world away. It can justly be listed among the finest pieces of short fiction in world literature. Terse in the best saga style, it spins a story of complex competitive social action, revealing the cool wit and finely-calibrated reticence of its three main characters: Audun, Harald Hardradi, and King Svein. The tale should have much to engage legal and cultural historians, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, and students of literature. The storya (TM)s treatment of gift-exchange is worthy of the fine anthropological and historical writing on gift-exchange; its treatment of face-to-face interaction a match for Erving Goffman.
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