Manuscripts and Special Collections

Icelandic Literature at the University of Nottingham

Poster for Ice, Fire and Northern Myths exhibition

The exhibition 'Ice, Fire and Northern Myths: Icelandic Literature at the University of Nottingham' was inspired by the myths and legends of the far north. With their powerful themes of good and evil, love and the lust for power, these stories have been retold and transformed for new audiences through the centuries.

Tolkien's modern saga The Lord of the Rings, the most-read work of twentieth-century literature, has strong associations with the Northern heritage, both in the story which it tells and its use of language and literary form. To show how the myths have come full circle, the display included a translation into Icelandic of Tolkien's epic.

Many different accounts have been given of the Vikings and the ancient Scandinavian world. Today we know that many of these stories are mistaken, or tell only part of the truth. Efforts to rediscover the Viking past can be traced in the works of scholars from the seventeenth century, while the process by which the Vikings captured the popular imagination is found in poetry and fictional stories from the eighteenth century to the present.

Nottingham University Library has rich holdings for both academic and more general studies. In 1967 the library of Viking literature collected by a former student, Noel Grudgings, was given to the University. It established a strength, which teaching and research interests build on. In 1998 the gift of the Eiríkur Benedikz collection of Icelandic literature transformed the scale of the collections, providing a tremendous resource for both the general reader in Viking studies and the specialist scholar.

Ice, Fire and Northern Myths was the first public exhibition of the Benedikz and Grudgings collections and related Icelandic holdings. Pride of place was given to the massive facsimile of Flateyjarbók, a late fourteenth-century compilation of sagas. Children's literature and popular re-interpretations illustrate common images and symbols of the Viking world. The dramatic landscape of Iceland is reproduced through the pictures of early travellers in search of scenery and sagas.

This online version includes a series of pages based on the large display panels shown at the exhibition, as well as a selection of the exhibits.

We intend mounting online versions of all our exhibitions held at the Weston Gallery, and would welcome your feedback on the content and usability of the following pages.



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Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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