Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Housecarles And Heimdall

"A while afterward [Ragnhild] was brought to bed. As wont was, nobody stayed with her in the women's bower but the midwife. Hadding feasted in the hall with his housecarles and guests. Noise, fire, and merriment helped frighten evil beings off."
-Poul Anderson, War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999), p. 185.

We can almost agree - if we say instead that noise, fire and merriment helped to keep evil forebodings away. But how would our ancestors have been able to differentiate between an inner foreboding and an outer being? Commenting on another of his stories set much further in the past, Anderson wrote:

"...the foregoing tale may appear to climax on a note of fantasy. You can read it that way if you like; or you can reflect that panic attacks do come upon people, and that it is told from the viewpoint of a primitive man, who makes less distinction than we do between what is inside and what is outside his skin.
"It has been well said that the past is another country. The further back we go, the more foreign it becomes. Modern narrative techniques begin to fail us in conveying some sense of eras as remote in spirit as they are in time. Myth has more power, but very few writers can handle it."
-Poul Anderson, All One Universe (New York, 1977), p. 190.

Poul Anderson wrote mystical narratives and conveyed pagan experience.

Hadding sees a god with a horn (War Of The Gods, p. 180), Heimdall. However, we have already mentioned this here. He makes Denmark safe but we have mentioned this here.

Less posts today because more activity here: swimming, a charity lunch, a film quiz and some driving between venues. Tomorrow hopefully: a walk, a Superman film and more blogging.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

THIS time, at least, I know which story has the bit about the past being another country: "The Forest." One of the two stories Poul Anderson set in the Old Stone Age.

Hmmm, I wonder, shouldn't "The Little Monster" also be included with the Old Stone Age stories despite most of it being set in far more ancient times?


Paul Shackley said...

It could be. However, I think that there should be a time travel collection, which would include "The Little Monster."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I remember you discussing several times how the different kinds of time traveling stories Poul Anderson wrote might be collected in different ways.