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Regiving and reclaiming gifts

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Chapter Summary

Audun’s Story depends on the richly textured and complex practices of gift exchange. The author has written about this before in both Norse and modern contexts, and the anthropological literature on the topic are vast. But the saga materials are especially fertile ground, as rich as any in the standard ethnographic accounts. The norm of reciprocity is more than morally and socially operative in the Norse world. The obligation to return a gift is in some settings legally enforceable. The author gets at this by treating of the respect one owes a gift received and a corollary, the circumstances under which one might undo a gift given, either because one regrets having given it, or because it has not been adequately recompensed. Audun’s Story puts the issue of re-gifting a gift squarely in play.

Keywords: Audun’s Story; gift exchange



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