UNDERBARA OBEGRÄNSADE OCEAN En ekokritisk studie av havet i Olaus Magnus Historia om de nordiska folken

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för litteratur, idéhistoria och religion

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to examine how the sea is portrayed in the book Historia om de nordiska folken (1555), to further understanding about early modern ideas of the ocean as a natural environment. The book was written by Sweden’s last Catholic archbishop Olaus Magnus, and it is a comprehensive work about the peoples and the geography in Northern Europe. The multiple translations and republications that quickly followed hint at the book’s popularity at the time. To this day, it is famous for its depictions of sea monsters. This study turns the attention to how the sea itself is portrayed in the book, and what kind of view of nature these depictions reveal. This is achieved by an analysis of the pictures and the texts in Historia om de nordiska folken, founded on perspectives from environmental history, ecocriticism and intermedial studies. I show that the sea in Olaus Magnus’s work is depicted in several numbers of juxtaposing ways: On one hand, it is understood as a rich and sustaining environment for humans, and as part of the order of nature, but on the other hand, it is also understood as forceful and threatening, a wondrous place exceeding the boundaries of nature. The ocean is thus understood as both natural and preternatural. The emphasis of the wondrous properties of the ocean in Olaus Magnus’s descriptions suggests that the ocean is considered a preternatural environment to a greater extent than it is considered a natural environment. If this reflects a more widespread idea of the sea in the early modern period, it may have implications for how the idea of sea as a natural environment develops over time.

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