The Faroe Islands: Interpretations of History
University Press of Kentucky, 2015. jan. 13. - 280 oldal
Stranded in a stormy corner of the North Atlantic midway between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are part of "the unknown Western Europe" -- a region of recent economic development and subnational peoples facing uncertain futures. This book tells the remarkable story of the Faroes' cultural survival since their Viking settlement in the early ninth century.
At first an unruly little republic, the islands soon became tributary to Norway, dwindled into a Danish-Norwegian mercantilist fiefdom, and in 1816 were made a Danish province. Today, however, they are an internally self-governing Danish dependency, with a prosperous export fishery and a rich intellectual life carried out in the local language, Faroese.
Jonathan Wylie, an anthropologist who has done extensive field work in the Faroes, creates here a vivid picture of everyday life and affairs of state over the centuries, using sources ranging from folkloric texts to parliamentary minutes and from census data to travelers' tales. He argues that the Faroes' long economic stagnation preserved an archaic way of life that was seriously threatened by their economic renaissance in the nineteenth century, especially as this was accompanied by a closer political incorporation into Denmark.
The Faroese accommodated increasingly profound social change by selectively restating their literary and historical heritage. Their success depended on domesticating a Danish ideology glorifying "folkish" ways and so claiming a nationality separate from Denmark's. The book concludes by comparing the Faroes' nationality-without-nationhood to the contrasting situations of their closest neighbors, Iceland and Shetland.
The Faroe Islands is an important contribution to Scandinavian as well as regional and ethnic studies and to the growing literature combining the insights and techniques of anthropology and history. Engagingly written and richly illustrated, it will also appeal to scholars in other fields and to anyone intrigued by the lands and peoples of the North.
The legend of Snaebjørn (Jakobsen 1898-1901:29-34) offers an illuminating
commentary on Faroese circumstances in the mid-seventeenth century. Also,
since it is composed of two distinct episodes, the second of which is an elf legend
So Snaebjørn didn't go at all, but the judge bore him a grudge because of this.
Some time after this a Dutch ship came to Suðuroy. It had many fine things to sell,
but no one dared to buy because the king had rented out to some merchants the
Then a cry went up to grab Snaebjørn because he had killed the bailiff; but
Snaebjørn took to his heels at once and fled, and he was so swift of foot that no
one could catch up with him. He headed for the mountain, up Klovningar, through
The “judge” bears Snaebjørn a grudge because of this. Snaebjørn is the only
person in the village who dares trade with a Dutch ship that has put in at Hvalba.
Again he is acting in accordance with his high, cliff-level position. Unfortunately ...
Like Snaebjørn's relationship with the byre woman, huldufólk represent a
transposition of Faroese ways to the world “outside the wall.” They are
intermediate between the village world and the natural one. Structurally, then,
this huldumaður is ...
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