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When being in thing was the in-thing

Tom Shippey: Iceland in the Middle Ages

20 September 2001
Viking Age Iceland 
by Jesse Byock.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 14 029115 6
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... sagas, for the most part, very concerned about these foreign exploits. The Viking Age had little impact on them. In the 10th and 11th centuries Icelanders in any case had troubles of their own, which JesseByock describes very well. The settlement of Iceland was not the long-drawn-out disaster which the later settlement of Greenland turned into, ending in starvation and cultural extinction, but at ...

Je sui uns hom

Tom Shippey

1 June 1989
Medieval Civilisation 400-1500 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Julia Barrow.
Blackwell, 393 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 0 631 15512 0
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The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages. Vol. I: 350-950 
edited by Robert Fossier, translated by Janet Sondheimer.
Cambridge, 556 pp., £30, February 1989, 0 521 26644 0
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The Medieval Imagination 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Chicago, 293 pp., £21.95, November 1988, 0 226 47084 9
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Concepts of Cleanliness: Changing Attitudes in France since the Middle Ages 
by Georges Vigarello, translated by Jean Birrell.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 239 pp., £25, October 1988, 0 521 34248 1
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Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power 
by Jesse Byock.
California, 264 pp., $32.50, October 1988, 0 520 05420 2
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... even now might make their point in one way or the other. There is something to be said, though, for the theory that Medieval Iceland was a kind of pure-environment anthropological laboratory. As JesseByock points out, it was a country that ought to have been a Utopia. It had: no foreign policy, no defence forces, no king, no lords, no peasants, no dispossessed aborigines, no battles (till late on ...

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