Heather O’Donoghue
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Old Norse in the New World
The mythology of emigration in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
in From Iceland to the Americas
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In American Gods, Neil Gaiman imagines how belief in the gods and folk heroes of the Old World is exported to the New World along with each successive wave of emigrants. In the novel, Gaiman fantasises about how these supernatural figures, reified in the narrative, fight for survival in their new setting, and come into conflict with the new gods of Gaiman’s America. This piece focuses on comparing and contrasting Gaiman’s Old Norse-derived gods with their originals in Old Norse mythological sources. It argues that these creatures are at the same time both sinister and comic but concludes that Gaiman’s representation of human immigration is a positive one which crucially does not privilege the value or contribution of one group over another.

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From Iceland to the Americas

Vinland and historical imagination


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