Thursday, 27 September 2012

Story Telling Techniques

Saga story telling techniques continue throughout Poul Anderson's Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973). Not only does the novel end:

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

but to emphasize the point, a Chapter ends:

"Here ends the tale of King Helgi." (p. 107)

When a passage begins not with the point of view of the yeoman Gunnar but with the bald factual statement:

"Not far off dwelt a yeoman called Gunnar." (p. 149)

- we know that this passage will not be about him. We are told that there was a man of a particular name as a way of introducing one of his offspring, in this case a daughter. (The book began thus.)

The phrase, "Among the heathen...," again reminds us that the narrator addresses not us but an English Christian court several centuries after the events described. (p. 142) We are told that, among the heathen, a woman's father, or her brother if the father is dead, decides on her first husband, though usually without going against her wishes, and she chooses second or later husbands.

Thus, Anderson fills in the social background not by having one of the characters reflect on it but by having his narrator explain it to her audience.

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