The sudden death on February 9, 1994, of Bjarne Fidjestøl, Professor of Nordic Philology at the University of Bergen, at the age of 56, is a particularly sad blow to the Viking Society, of which, over the past few years, he had become an increasingly close friend. Many of the Society’s members attended the Seventh Biennial Conference of Teachers of Scandinavian Studies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland held at University College London in March 1987, at which Bjarne gave, at the invitation of the Conference organisers (who have since published it in the Proceedings) a paper in Norwegian on scaldic poetry and the Conversion, with special reference to the kingship of Haraldr hárfagri. At the Society’s  centenary symposium in 1992 Bjarne also gave, at the Society’s invitation, a paper in English on the contribution of scaldic studies to current scholarly engagement with the problem of the extent of the Christian impact on pagan beliefs in the Viking Age; this paper is published in Anthony Faulkes and Richard Perkins, eds, Viking Revaluations (1993), the volume in which the papers given at the symposium are collected. Bjarne’s books Sólarljóð: Tyding og tolkingsgrunnlag (1979) and Det norrøne fyrstediktet (1982) are, as it happens, reviewed by the former and current Presidents of the Society in Scandinavica 20 (1981) 219, and 25 (1986), 74–76, respectively. Neither review does justice to the book with which it deals, but each at least offers a way into the book in question for readers whose nynorsk may not be entirely up to scratch.
           At the Conference in 1987, mentioned above, Bjarne was asked by Michael Barnes in my hearing to make an after-dinner speech on behalf of the Norwegian delegates at the end of the Conference. He immediately replied: ‘Oh, no; I can’t possibly give a speech in English.’ ‘But we want you to do it in Norwegian,’ said Michael. ‘Oh; then I’ll have to think of some other excuse,’ Bjarne replied. Fortunately he was persuaded to give the speech in Norwegian, and did so to the great pleasure of his hosts and no doubt also to that of his fellow Norwegian guests. In addition to the unassuming modesty and gentle sense of humour that this story illustrates, Bjarne also had a moral courage and integrity that led him to risk making himself unpopular in order to stand up for what he believed in. Not everybody will have agreed with his position on the Seventh International Saga Conference at Spoleto in 1988, which included in its programme a contribution from a representative of the University of South Africa, but few can have failed to admire the openness and painstaking persistence with which Bjarne made his position clear, both at the Conference itself and in letters written to many of its members beforehand. It is a particular sadness that he did not live to hear of the forming of the new government in South Africa; he would have rejoiced at the news.
         Our deep sympathies go to his wife Eva, to his children Mari, Ragna, Alfred and Ane, and to his students and colleagues at the University of Bergen.
—Rory W. McTurk
Saga Book of the Viking Society