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The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – March 1, 2001

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The Sagas of Icelanders: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) + Njal's Saga (Penguin Classics) + The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
Price for all three: $42.92

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Editio
  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141000031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000039
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The Icelandic Sagas are among the masterpieces of world literature whose composition stretches from about the year 1000 to 1500. Presenting the adventures of Norse and Viking heroes, the sagas are told with ritual simplicity and a realism that anticipate the modern novel. This volume offers nine full sagas and six tales, all new translations by various hands and all part of The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders, also edited by Thorsson. Published to mark the 1000th anniversary of Leif Ericksson's voyage to North America, as told in the Vinland Sagas, this selection includes (along with the Vinland Sagas) the famous Egil's Saga and that of Gisli Sursson. The volume also offers a preface by novelist Jane Smiley and a scholarly introduction by Robert Kellogg of the University of Virginia. Wonderful for anyone interested in world literature, this selection is recommended for public and academic libraries.
-Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"One of the great marvels of World Literature.... This is a dream come true." --Ted Hughes

"A testimony to the human spirit's ability not only to endure what fate may send it but to be renewed by the experience." --Seamus Heaney

"The glory of the Sagas is indisputable." --Milan Kundera

"Generally excellent, accurate and readable, these translations are sure to become the standard versions." --The Times Literary Supplement (London)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

172 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Jadepearl VINE VOICE on March 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the price offered ($16) this is an amazing bargain. For the cost of two Penguin translations (2 Sagas) you get 9 sagas and multiple tales. Speaking as a person that bought the hardback the paperback is not missing anything as far as I can tell by comparing tables of contents. However, earlier criticisms that it is missing some very classic sagas such as, _Njal's Saga_ though valid should not deter you from getting this book. I will conjecture that the length of those definitive sagas were too much to put into a one volume collection.
Get the book - no shelf should be without the sagas and it is a thrifty choice.
The collection that both the hardback and softback are taken from is a large collection called _Sagas of the Icelanders_ which is about ~$600 so you might also keep that in mind when buying. By no means is this all the sagas from that massive collection but it is a good survey and there is a good further sources section.
For those who are saga junkies be aware that the Sagas of the Icelanders (Islendasogur) is only the Icelandic family sagas and not any of the Bishop Sagas nor Heroic/Mythic Sagas e.g., Saga of Hralf Kraki. So if you are hoping to score the Saga of Harold or any saga whose action is outside of Iceland or not related to one of the great families look elsewhere. Also, for saga junkies these translations do not footnote the geneaology of the characters which the Penguin translations usually did. So you get more of the original feel with "son of...daughter of.."
Overall, if you have become enthralled with the sagas or just taking the plunge for the first time this is a very good and economical choice. Be aware that it is a very thick paperback and not as sturdy as it could be. But by all means get it.
Highly recommended. If you like this set then get Njal's Saga.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Mark Henderson on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These sagas are selected from the excellent and rare five volume set "Complete Sagas of the Icelanders". The translations are clear and readable. A glossary is provided to explain terms unfamiliar to those new to the sagas. In addition there is considerable historical background material which gives the necessary context for understanding the sagas.
If you enjoy the Old Icelandic sagas, this volume is a _must have_. If you aren't familiar with the Old Icelandic sagas, this is probably the best place to start.
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96 of 105 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Dale on March 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Icelandic sagas bear repeated readings - these texts are a heritage of ancient European culture that belong on the "canon lists" with Homer and Shakespeare. Their influences and histories are that important, anyone who speaks English should certainly read these stories, they are distantly related to us and are at once familiar and very strange. This massive volume is the best single-source for the sagas, and the translations are all new and take into account the most recent scholarship on the sagas. Five stars for the work and the translations, and a sixth star for the best reason to own this book, the reference section, a book in its own right: illlustrations and diagrams, historical charts, glossary (Icelandic-English), up-to-the-minute and large bibliography, maps, family ties and trees, ages of icelandic history, and essays on the social and political structure that is so important to really understading the sagas and the culture that produced them.

However, I have to subtract a few of my stars, with the proviso that I do recommend this book as a must-own for anyone interested. This may raise a few hackles, but I really think that the "Tales" could have been omitted, and either Njal's saga or Erbyggya Saga added. These are fundamental sagas (esp. the former), but perhaps this is just my own love of Njal that sways me. Naturally, the inclusion of these sagas would mean something had to go, and I think that the sagas can stand without the Tales to augment them.

All that said, the book is still a treasure, and I am very glad to see Penguin coming out with such fine volumes. After all, Njal and Ergyggja are also published in very nice translation by Penguin.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By "slofty" on June 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book on the table of "new" books at the local chain bookstore, I rushed home with exitement to order the book from Amazon - at a considerable discount!
As a Norwegian-American, I grew-up with other people named "Olaf", "Eirik", "Ragnar", "Einar", "Magnus" and "Bjorn". I always knew that these names had come from Scandinavian history - but I didn't know EXACTLY. Now I know. As children, we would hear small snippets of these stories from our parents and grandparents - but never really knew exactly where they came from. Now I know.
In this age where we are constantly told through a variety of media and social institutions that we must "appreciate" diversity and other cultures, this usually really only means a COUPLE of other cultures that happen to have a lot of political influence right now.
There are GENERATIONS of Scandinavian-American people who have completely forgotten THEIR heritage...having been lumped-together with other Western if they ALL had/have the same culture.
These stories of Eirik The Red, Leif Eiriksson, Odin, etc. should be force-fed to EVERY literature student in America - along with Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, Steinbeck AND Greek/Roman mythology. (Heresy, I know!) I see students every day who devour "junk" trade paperback fantasy novels, when everything they are looking for can be found in these beautifully translated sagas that are not only based on some historical fact, but are so beautifully written that they could become a foundation for much further learning.
This edition is wonderful. Beautifully bound, with a few maps and geneological charts, glossary and pronunciation guide.
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