Gullskinna. Postmedieval transmission and reception of a lost medieval parchment-codex

The project will analyse the post-medieval manuscript tradition of Njáls saga. Recent research indicates that the bulk of the 45 paper-manuscripts copied between the 16th and the 19th centuries can be traced back to a lost parchment codex that is referred to as Gullskinna in one of the manuscripts.

The project’s core data are transcriptions of the manuscripts in the TEI-XML-format that will be used to accomplish the two main tasks of the project: (1) a stemma of the Gullskinna-manuscripts based on computer analysis of textual variants in the different text witnesses, and (2) an analysis of the treatment of a number of morphological and syntactic variables exhibited by different scribes. This analysis builds on a semi-automatic morphological and syntactic annotation and a comparison of the variables in aligned transcriptions.

Post-medieval copyists of medieval Icelandic manuscripts can be expected to have adapted the language of their sources to their and their audiences’ language, but also to have felt obligated to pass down the text faithfully. Understanding how this conflict played out in the different manuscripts of the saga will help us understand their value as witnesses to linguistic, literary, and cultural change both in the medieval period and in their own time.

This research will be complemented with an examination of the post-medieval copyists of Njáls saga with a focus on the relationship between different manuscripts and scribes, their audience and the commissioning of the manuscripts.

The project is funded by the Icelandic Research Fund (styrknúmer 152342-051) and is being conducted at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík, Iceland by Dr. Margrét Eggertsdóttir, Dr Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir and Dr. Ludger Zeevaert (Principal Investigator) and at the School of English, University of Leeds (Dr Alaric Hall).