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Gifts upward: Repaying by receiving and funny money

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Chapter Summary

Gifts between rough equals are clearly obligation-creating. Gifts can thus be burdensome; they can even humiliate the recipient if they are of such value that the recipient would be hard-pressed to make adequate recompense, because as between equals the return must be demonstrably of equivalent value; no funny money paybacks. There is, as Audun’s Story shows regarding the equals Harald Hardradi and King Svein, an inherent, nearly unavoidable competitiveness that lurks in the shadows of the most friendly and routine of exchanges. A good king gets credit for rain too, just as today presidents or prime ministers get praised or blamed for economic prosperity or recession for which their inputs have negligible effect, if any at all. Audun’s Story even casts its clever eye in this direction when Audun gives all the credit for his good luck to Harald.

Keywords: Audun’s Story; funny money; gifts; Harald Hardradi; King Svein



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