Merlínússpá: King Arthur and Merlin in Medieval Iceland
Last week I spoke with Dr Kathy Cawsey, professor of English literature at Dalhousie University in Canada. Kathy is an inspiring researcher and teacher, and was one of the first scholars to introduce me to the wonders of medieval literature.
Our conversation was recorded as part of Kathy’s podcast series ‘Eavesdropping on Arthurians.’ In it, we discuss the importation of Arthurian romances from France and England into medieval Scandinavia. In particular, we look at the Old Norse-Icelandic poem Merlínússpá (The Prophecy of Merlin), which is a translation of the prophecies told by Merlin in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain). It is not merely a translation, however. Merlínússpá represents the full-scale acculturation of Arthurian material into Old Norse poetic forms and mythic, legendary, and literary traditions.
I recently translated excerpts of Merlínússpá, which will be published in a forthcoming anthology of Arthurian literature by Broadview Press.