The Function of the Living Dead in Medieval Norse and Celtic Literature: Death and Desire

Price:$159.95 + shipping
(Click the PayPal button to buy)
Examines the nature and function of the dead in medieval Norse and Celtic literature. It is demonstrated that agents of the living dead in these literatures have a functional and formulaic role, largely manifested as a process of wish-fulfillment. While the authors of these stories provide resonances of past beliefs regarding the dead, they also appear to have adapted these ideas for their own purposes in order to involve the dead as role-players in their stories. This book contains 11 color photographs.


“The single greatest strength of Dr. Smith’s monograph may reside in its presentation of a comprehensive typology for surviving instantiations of the theme of the Living Dead in medieval Celtic and Scandinavian sources. ... In sum, it is against the benchmarks offered by the models, typologies, and hypotheses presented throughout the present study that future archaeological, linguistic and literary investigations into medieval attitudes towards the dead will need to be evaluated.” - Paul G. Remley, University of Washington

“Dr. Smith’s highly detailed and carefully articulated study of the many different ways in which the dead function in relation to, and interact with, the living opens up a number of fresh avenues of literary, cultural, and metaphysical interpretation of the rich, and richly varied, texts that survive from medieval northwestern Europe.” - Míceál F. Vaughan, Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature, University of Washington

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Paul G. Remley
1 Identifying the Dead
2 The Influence of the Dead
3 The Dead and Desire: Initiations and Transformations
4 Collective Desire and the Troubled Otherworld

Other Celtic Studies Books