Philology, elegy, and cultural change

  • J. Harris
Keywords: Philology, Elegy


Citing Sigurður Nordal as a model, the article attempts to bring philology, with its concern with minutiae, into dialogue with the grand sweep of Nordic civilizational analysis that formed the focus of the workshop as a whole. The paper argues a continuity from the building blocks of the particular through the controlled generalization of genre (and interpretation) to a limited window on one aspect of cultural dynamic. The examples of philology ascending toward broad cultural history are supplied by Egill Skalla-Grímsson’s Sonatorrek and the Swedish Rök inscription. The genre in question is erfikvæði, which, however, is treated as a form of cross-cultural ‘elegy,’ thus opening toward the memorial inscription. The Rök inscription is, in conclusion, assessed in its relation to hegemonic influence from the Continent, advancing communications technology, and possible nativistic resistance.