Challenge 508 Response
with Bertil Falk
In Bertil Falk’s “The Saga of the Flight Homewards, ” Einar and Dag kill each other at the same time. What problems does that solve for Gardar? For the author?
[Bertil Falk] Einar’s and Dag’s killing each other at the same time does not solve any problem for Gardar.
As for the author, he saw it as a dramatic situation giving Einar an opportunity to utter a bevingat ord (literally a “winged word”) or “a familiar quotation” in the dying-words tradition of the Icelandic sagas.
[Don Webb] Both Einar’s last words and Gardar’s funereal poem are very important elements, as you say. In effect, Dag remains a scoundrel; Einar is a Viking hero.
However, I do think Einar’s and Dag’s deadly duel solves a problem for both Gardar and the author. If Einar is not killed, what happens next? Gardar shows up on his mother’s doorstep accompanied by Einar the Caresser. Readers may picture Gardar reviving his mother with smelling salts: “Mom, really, this is not what it looks like...” Such a comic scene would be out of place in a tragedy.