Published April 10, 2017
There are more sex jokes in the sagas than you might guess, and neither jokes about butt-sex nor the literary masterpieces of the genre are exempt. The Saga of Gísli Súrsson begins with a good old-fashioned Norwegian family feud in which a guy named Skeggi asks his carpenter to carve a wooden statue of Gísli with another dude’s dick in his butt as an insult. Gísli happens to be hiding in the bushes nearby and he jumps out and cuts off Skeggi’s leg, later killing him. I like to think that he dies in the name of sodomy. So before the real story starts, let’s have a moment of silence for Saint Skeggi, patron saint of anal.
Bromance is dead
Due to this feud, Gísli and his family move to Iceland, leaving behind all this business about who puts what in whose behind. They all marry into respectable Icelandic families. Gísli lives with his wife Auður, brother Þórkell, and his wife Ásgerður, while Gísli and Þórkell’s sister Þórdís lives nearby with her husband Þórgrímur. There is also a guy named Vésteinn, the brother of Gísli’s wife. I know this seems confusing as hell, but I’ve already narrowed out like fourteen other dudes also named Þórsomething so this is as simple as it can get. Sorry not sorry.
The four brothers-in-law show up at Parliament dressed like rich bitches and do nothing but drink. This causes lots of gossip about them, including a prophesy that their friendship is doomed. When the brothers-in-law hear about this, they decide to avert it by taking the oath of blood-brotherhood. In this case it means making a fort of grass, mixing their blood into the dirt, and holding hands, exactly like little boys would probably do. But Þórgrímur won’t hold hands with Vésteinn because they’re not related, so Gísli is like, “Fine, then I won’t hold hands with you because you won’t hold hands with my bff.” Then he realizes it was all for nothing and tells Þorkell, “We’re basically fucked.”
Murder (not so) mystery
One day Þorkell overhears Auður accuse his wife Ásgerður of wanting to bone her brother Vésteinn instead of her own husband. Ásgerður is like, “Yeah, and?” When he won’t let her into the bed that night, Ásgerður threatens to divorce him. When he declines a divorce, she assumes they can just fuck their way to forgiveness and everything seems fine. When Vésteinn had gone abroad, Gísli had broken a coin in half and they each took one, like those children’s friendship necklaces popular in the 1990s. Gísli sends his piece to Vésteinn warning him to come home because everything is in fact not fine.
As the prophesy foretold, they’re fucked. Meanwhile, Þorkell meets with a wizard who forges a spear for him from the broken pieces of a family sword. When Vésteinn ignores Gísli’s warning and returns anyway, he is promptly speared to death in the night by an anonymous killer. Whoever could it be? Well Gísli, genius as he is, has dreams that point the finger at Þorgrímur so he sneaks into his place at night and spears him right back.
Lather, rinse, revenge
Þórdís wastes no time in marrying her dead husband’s brother Börkur, nor in having her own brother charged with outlawry for the murder. The rest of the saga passes as a montage of Gisli finding strange new places to hide only to be discovered by Börkur and his cousin Eyjólfur, then escaping, and doing it all again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
He also encounters all kinds of freaks and geeks along the way. Most notably there is a guy who keeps his gigantic troll-child on a leash outside his home and a woman so obscene that she successfully repels the search party by offending them with her mouth-fuckery. This all goes on for years and all the while he is haunted by a mysterious woman in his dreams, probably a beautiful personification of his guilt or some shit like that. You know, literature.
Sadly, they find him in the end. When they attack, even Auður helps to fight them off with a club. They cut him open and his entrails spill out but he gathers them up, shoves them back in, and keeps fighting until he keels over. When Eyjólfur returns to gloat to Börkur about news, Þórdís has some deep feels about her brother’s death. So she stabs Eyjólfur in the leg, declares herself divorced from Börkur, and walks the fuck out.
Morals of the story:
1. Violence begets trauma.
2. Seriously, dude, see a psychiatrist.
For more “Saga Recaps,” read here.