Sanje Publishing

Hallgerd’s Saga
by Svetlana Makarovič

  • original title: Saga o Hallgerd
  • first published in 2010
  • 46 pages
  • rights available: world
Hallgerd’s Saga

In Iceland, the 10th and 11th century bore witness to a clash of arms between the pagan tradition and Christianity. In this conflict, the astonishingly beautiful Hallgerd plays a role by remaining faithful to the ancient ways. She reveres her fellow humans, but nevertheless does not forgive their wrongdoings. Thus, her brother Thjostolf ’s axe slays her first two husbands, while she herself takes on the revenge against her third spouse. Because of her proud demeanour, a curse is incurred against her. Therefore, girls by the name of Hallgerd are still very rare in Iceland to this very day.

Svetlana Makarovič, the greatest female poet Slovenia has ever known, once again attests to her extraordinary narrative and poetic strength in her actualisation of the traditional Icelandic Njáls Saga.

Tough times have come. The winters were harsher than even the eldest of the old people could recall. Foodstuffs became scarce. Meanwhile, that worthless tart Hallgerd kept on enticing my son into her bed, bearing him children one after another, so the farmstead had even more hungry mouths to feed. My son was again embarking on a plundering journey south. Before he took off, he told his wife: “I am counting on you, my dear Hallgerd, to watch over our farm.” “I promise you I shall,” said Hallgerd, before Gunnar embraced her and kissed her cursed red lips, whereas I, his own mother, received nothing but a fleeting tap on the shoulder. He even laughed: “There now, stop whining, mother, I shall return come spring, with battleships full of loot. Courage, I say!”