Paper given 13 June 2014 at the conference "Sagas, Legends and Trolls: The Supernatural from Early Modern back to Old Norse Tradition", University of Tartu, Estonia, 12 - 14 June 2014, by Eldar Heide, eldar-heide.net/.
Abstract: As is well known, the middle, main section of the legendary saga Þorsteins þáttr bǿjarmagns is based upon the myth of Þórr and Geirrøðr, known from Medieval manuscripts (containing Þórsdrápa and Snorri’s Edda). In this paper, it is argued that it is also possible to identify a narrative behind another section of the saga, a narrative that we (otherwise) only know from 19th century traditions, namely the Icelandic elf queen legend. The first adventure in the saga corresponds closely to the legend at most points, but differs markedly at some. The relationship is such that the saga narrative can easily be understood as an adaptation of a 13th century version of the legend, whereas it is very difficult to derive the legend from the saga narrative. The second part of the paper is dedicated to a discussion of how the saga writer worked with his material. Why did he choose to re-use these narratives? What did he change and what did he keep? How and why did he change what he changed? How does the re-used material fit together and function in the new context? Most discussions of such questions so far have only taken into account possible raw material that we know from Medieval manuscripts, because it has been widely assumed that only such comparative material is available to us. Þorsteins þáttr bǿjarmagns offers an opportunity to go beyond that limitation.