Philip Thomas Lavender
Philip Thomas Lavender


Current research

My current project is a Carlsbergfondet-funded investigation of Icelandic sagas based on the works of Saxo Grammaticus. A number of such sagas can be found in post-medieval manuscripts, and, if rímur-versions are included, we are dealing with more than a hundred exemplars. These texts range from close translations (mostly of Anders Sørensen Vedel's Danish translation of Saxo) to extremely free adaptations and reworkings. One of my main interests is the ways in which Icelandic scribes and authors took material strongly associated with Danish nationalism and cultural heritage and sculpted and reimagined it to reflect their own cultural concerns during a period when Iceland was subject to the Danish monarchy.   

My doctoral research was a contribution to the fornaldarsaga project. I chose a short and fairly overlooked saga, Illuga saga Gríðarfóstra, and examined the 40 different manuscripts which contain this text. As well as investigating the relationship of this saga to an episode in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum and similar ballads from across the Scandinavian area, I looked at the transmission and reception of the saga in its different manuscript witnesses (over a period of more than 400 years and in several Scandinavian countries) in order to reach wider conclusions about the uses and valency of such literature.

Fields of interest

Fornaldarsögur, late sagas, transmission and reception of saga literature (particularly in 17th-19th-century mainland Scandinavia), rímur, saga-ballad connections.

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