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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

This paper examines an Icelandic Saga, Gísli Súrsson’s Saga, with the aid of key readings in liminal space theory, medieval Christian philosophy, and The King’s Two Bodies by Ernst Kantorowicz. Building on prior scholarship by William I. Miller and other scholars of medieval outlawry, the paper focuses on Gísli's symbolic status as a break from Iceland’s pagan background due to his liminal state, outlawry, apparent belief systems and values, and suggested relation to medieval Christian philosophy. Gísli is an outlier, but he is also a precursor to Iceland’s eventual conversion to Christianity because of his negotiation of boundaries, turn from paganism, and acceptance of his fate. Through Gísli, I argue the presence of a hyperreality or axis mundi, a spiritual bridge, within the presentation of Iceland’s conversion to Christianity. This argument is relevant to current issues regarding colliding ethnic backgrounds and the liminal space between people and ideas and furthers the study of Iceland’s sagas as examples of historical immigration narratives and texts of spiritual significance.

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