We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr David Ashurst

Ashurst, D. (2006). 'Imagining Paradise'. In The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature. Sagas and the British isles. McKinnell, J., Ashurst, D. & Kick, D. Durham: Durham University. 1: 71-80.

Author(s) from Durham


The focus of this paper will be on the lore concerning the nature and location of Paradise as represented in Old Norse texts, primarily those whose chief purpose is to inform or edify rather than to entertain. It will consider whether these texts suggest that there was a widespread understanding, among audiences reading or listening in the vernacular, of the distinction between the earthly and the heavenly Paradise, and whether the earthly Paradise was conceived of as being in some sense contiguous with hell, so that the one could potentially be accessed via the other (as Dante, for example, accesses first Purgatory and then Paradise on an imaginary journey via the infernal region, in the Divina Commedia). The conclusions drawn will then be used to cast light on the use of the Paradise motif in two Old Norse works of imaginative literature, Eireks saga víðförla and Alexanders saga.


Preprint papers of the thirteenth international saga conference held in Durham and York between the 6th - 12th August, 2006.

Support Staff