Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largesse in a by William I Miller

By William I Miller

Audun’s tale is the story of an Icelandic farmhand who buys a polar undergo in Greenland for no different cause than to offer it to the Danish king, part a global away. it may justly be indexed the most effective items of brief fiction in international literature. Terse within the most sensible saga kind, it spins a narrative of complicated aggressive social motion, revealing the cool wit and finely-calibrated reticence of its 3 major characters: Audun, Harald Hardradi, and King Svein. the story must have a lot to interact felony and cultural historians, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, and scholars of literature. The story’s remedy of gift-exchange is helpful of the high-quality anthropological and ancient writing on gift-exchange; its therapy of face-to-face interplay a fit for Erving Goffman.

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Extra resources for Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largesse in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business

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5 Aki can let himself believe that the king will reward him for making sure the bear got to him, that he waived taking full advantage of Audun. What then is different about this gift that so enrages Svein, that Aki cannot take his routine cut? What makes the king think this to be a case of ingratitude on Aki’s part for the favor the king has shown him, rather than business as usual? What justifies his banishment, and as Svein says, his death? Certain gifts to the king, it seems, are special. Routine tribute is one thing, but a polar bear, a polar bear bought with everything the presenter had?

SAYING NO TO KINGS Svein happily accepts the bear and invites Audun to stay, but after a short time Audun indecorously says he wants to leave. The king’s hackles rise. One does not leave court by one’s own decision; one must obtain leave to leave. But Audun, resourceful as ever, undoes the offense, or more accurately, keeps what is perceived as a proto-offense from crystallizing into a true offense, by coming up with the perfect excuse: a pilgrimage to Rome. Fast forward to the next refusal after Audun returns from Rome and is invited by Svein to become his cupbearer, a high-ranking court position.

124–125. 32 part one for gifts outright or hinting so obviously that no one could claim to have missed the hint was the norm. Nonetheless we find an occasional Norseman behaving in just this way. 7 I suspect that there lingers in the expression of interest or admiration for someone else’s possession a near universal expression of a wish or a fond hope, which can be ignored or acted upon depending on the situation, that the admirer would love to have it be his. Thus the six-year-old down the street who kept noting to my wife that our then six-year-old no longer played with this particular toy, did he?

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