Grettir in Sheffield: Rewriting Icelandic saga as a contemporary novel

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My novel NUTCASE (2017) rewrites the medieval Icelandic Saga of Grettir the Strong as the story of Aidan, a young man growing up in Sheffield in the UK in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is also an attempt to reproduce the style and structure of an Íslendingasaga [saga of Icelanders] in a contemporary novel. This article sets out the project’s rationale, surveys other relevant novel engagements with saga, and articulates my research process with particular focus on violence, style and voice, the monstrous, and gender. The project represents the first attempt by a novelist writing in English to adopt wholesale the style and structure of the family sagas, and the first English rewriting of a specific saga into a contemporary setting. This article provides a reflective account of that rewriting process, and in doing so it provides a model for other writers to learn from the forms and techniques of other medieval literatures. It argues that treating medieval texts not merely as sources to be plundered for content but as practical paradigms we can learn from enables our contemporary practice to be expanded and reinvigorated by the writing practices of the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Issue number2
Early online date25 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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