Sunday, 30 September 2012

Narratives And Northern Lights

Poul Anderson's Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973) refers to:

"...a vast, shuddering sheaf of northlights, from which rays of wan red and glacier green fanned out over half the sky." (p. 239)

- so it is appropriate to illustrate it with an image of them.
(Cross reference: it is said that the Lights can steal souls but a Neil Gaiman character, the Alderman, is old enough to know - how rarely that happens.)

Just after that:

"Once an owl went soundlessly by, and Hjalti thought of fieldmice huddled in fear of those wings...like men in fear of the Powers.
"He lifted his head. Not him!" (p. 239)

Here is an apt comparison of men fearing the Powers with mice fearing an owl - and Hjalti's heroic defiance.

Here also is novelistic narrative. No longer is a Danish woman addressing a tenth century English court. Instead, the omniscient author directly tells the reader what Hjalti thought and how he responded. We have at last got right inside a character's mind.

The novel began and will end with saga-style narrative:

"Here ends the saga of Hrolf Kraki and his warriors." (p. 261)

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