This essay looks at George Mackay Brown's novel of 1992, Vinland, in the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century “foundation myth” literature inspired by the Viking discovery of North America as originally recounted in medieval Icelandic sagas. This body of writing ranges from the New England “Fireside Poets” to Ottilie Liljencrantz's Vinland trilogy (1902–1906) to Nevil Shute's An Old Captivity (1940). The overarching aim will be to assess Mackay Brown's Orcadian perspective on Vínland in the context of what can broadly be regarded as a literature of colonialism; that is to say, a literature that explores the unequal relationships and value differences between the colonizers and the indigenous population.
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