Emotional Experience and Microhistory : A Life Story of a Destitute Pauper Poet in the 19th Century book cover
1st Edition

Emotional Experience and Microhistory
A Life Story of a Destitute Pauper Poet in the 19th Century

ISBN 9780367359966
Published May 27, 2020 by Routledge
174 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Emotional Experience and Microhistory explores the life and death of Magnús Hj. Magnússon through his diary, poetry and other writing, showing how best to use the methods of microhistory to address complicated historical situations.

The book deals with the many faces of microhistory and applies it’s methodology to the life of the Icelandic destitute pauper poet Magnús Hj. Magnússon (1873–1916). Having left his foster home at the age of 19 in 1892, he lived a peripatetic existence in an unstinting struggle with poor health, together with a ceaseless quest for a space to pursue writing and scholarship in accord with his dreams. He produced and accumulated a huge quantity of sources (autobiography, diary, poems, reflections) which are termed by the author as ‘egodocuments’. The book demonstrates how these egodocuments can be applied systematically, revealing unexpected perspectives on his life and demonstrating how integration of diverse sources can open up new perspectives on complex and difficult subjects. In so doing, the author offers an understanding both of how Magnússon’s story has been told, and how it can give insight into such matters as gender relations and sexual life, and the history of emotions.

Highlighting how the historiographical development of modern scholarship has shaped scholars’ ideas about egodocuments and microhistory around the world, the book is of great use and interest to scholars of microhistory, social and cultural modern history, literary theory, anthropology and ethnology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Part I The Normal exceptions and Stories from the People

1. Creating a Story

2. Real People and Fictional Ones

3. The Individual and Microhistory

4. The Normal Exception

5. The Book

Part II Emotional Communities in the Life and Death of Magnús Hj. Magnússon

1. In Hostile Waters

2. A Harsh Life on the Farm of Hestur

3. Courtship

4. Matters of Life and Death

5. Matthildur’s Death and the Poets

6. Saved by the Salvation Army?

7. Rape: Wrongful Ruling?

8. The High Court

9. Two Contrasting Arguments – New Sources

10. Days of Hope and Fear

11. Eternal Life

Part III In the Company of Few

1. A Pointillist Portrait of a Person

2. The Conceptual Framework of Sex and Sexuality

3. Microhistory, Material Culture and Death

4. Fiction and Microhistory



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Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon is Professor of Cultural History and chair of the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of Iceland. He is also chair of the Center for Microhistorical Research. His latest books in English are What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice (2013) co-authored with István M. Szijártó, and Minor Knowledge and Microhistory (2017), co-authored with Davíð Ólafsson. He is the founder and an editor of the book series "The Anthology of Icelandic Popular Culture" (Sýnisbók íslenskrar alþýðumenningar) and also co-editor with István M. Szijártó of the series, Microhistories, published by Routledge.