Dr. B Asks, “What are you reading?”

“To understand the present, we have to know the past”

Article by Dr. Erika Behrisch Elce

28116 OCdt (III) Robert Seed chatted with me about one of his impressive recent reads: Njal’s Saga, a tenth-century Icelandic chronicle about community justice and the vagaries of personal fortune. “Njal isn’t actually a conventional hero of the tale,” OCdt Seed notes, “he’s not strong and heroic – he can hardly lift an axe or grow one of those famous Icelandic beards – but he’s smart instead.” In an isolated warrior culture with a currency of blood payments, how does a thinker survive? “It’s a challenge!” OCdt Seed admits: “Njal tries to rise above petty jealousies by presiding at the Althing (the Icelandic court), but in helping one of his friends, he gets caught between powerful egos and is ultimately destroyed. Pride always gets in the way.”

Is OCdt Seed in the habit of picking up ancient texts for pleasure? “I went to Iceland this summer, and wanted to know about the place before I got there.” What’s the value of choosing a 1100-year-old text? “To understand the present, we have to know the past,” OCdt Seed explained, “and heritage texts are the best way to trace culture. I loved it so much I read it again when I got home.”