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The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 30, 1965
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Top Customer Reviews
Translators Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson have also produced a thorough 37-page introduction which discusses the archeological evidence for the medieval Norse presence in the Americas, the historical development of the sagas themselves, and the evolution of the saga as a unique genre of literature. Maps, a chronology, and other resources further enhance this book's usefulness for students and teachers.
But don't let the scholarly apparatus fool you into thinking that "The Vinland Sagas" is just a text for the classroom. The sagas themselves, likely written in the 12th and 13th centuries, are still great reading all these hundreds of years later. With their simple, no-nonsense prose style, along with the presence of characters with such names as "Thorhall the Hunter" and "Aud the Deep-Minded," the sagas have a truly unique quality.
And for those interested in the history of the Americas or in multicultural issues, these two sagas contain a wealth of tantalizing episodes and characters. Each tale reflects the conflict between Christianity and Paganism within Norse culture during that great age of exploration. Also fascinating are the accounts of the first encounters between the Norsemen and the "skraelings" (the Norse word for the indigenous inhabitants of this new world).Read more ›
The Norse Discovery of America
By Magnusson & Palsson
The Vinland Sagas, like all the Edda's & Sagas, are very difficult to review. The Sagas are what they are, collections of original tales, Myths, family histories & genealogies of Icelandic & Scandinavian origin. They ARE history, good, bad or indifferently, after a thousand years or so, they are history.
Magnusson and Palsson have given us two of the more understandable modern translations with more than adequate footnotes and explanations. The Authors introduction gives you an excellent and informative background on the exploration and colonization of both Greenland & Vinland. At the end of the book the Authors have included a useful glossary like chapter titled, "List of Proper Names". I found it very useful in clarifying individuals with the same or similar names. All in all a must for anyone interested in Norse Lore or early North American exploration.
On a side note, my copy is over 40 years old. I hope that Penguin, (or any other publisher for that matter), will revise the books format and maps. Additionally they need to add some notes or even a chapter on the archaeological finds on this subject that have taken place in the last 40 years.
"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc"
The "Full Circle" theory of human migration holds that modern man's early ancestors parted ways about 100,000 years ago in Africa. Some turned east into Asia; some west into Europe. The two civilizations would not meet again until the Vikings encountered the aboriginal people of North America. The book's lengthy introduction provides an excellent primer on the history and controversy surrounding these sagas and the events they relate.
The Vikings treated native Americans -- whom they called "skraelings," which translates into something like "wretches" -- as shabbily as any later colonialists. From Eirik's Saga: "They came upon five Skraelings clad in skins, asleep; beside them were containers full of deer-marrow mixed with blood. Karlsefni's men reckoned that these five must be outlaws, and killed them." The five natives were, of course, a hunting party -- not outlaws.
Though they were probably the first Europeans to set foot on North America, pre-dating Columbus by 500 years, the Norse explorers failed to establish a colony on the continent. Thus, while fascinating, their adventures will never be as historically significant as those of later seafarers.
The second, Eirik's Saga gives a somewhat different account of the same events. Although the details remain similar,
the persons and personalities shift. Both are short but interesting, and the first chapter of each had to be restored
from another account as the original chapters for each were lost. That should no distract from one of the amazing
stories in human history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful part of the Icelandic sagas. Tells a bit more of the story than the others.Published 16 months ago by PfV
I enjoyed reading the history behind several historical fictions I've read. The translation seems to be done well. There not long and the commentary was interesting.Published on February 2, 2014 by Amazon Customer
When Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to "discover" the Americas, he didn't realize that some 500 years before the Vikings had already done that. Read morePublished on May 12, 2013 by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
As other reviewers have noted, The Vinland Sagas" contains two English translations of the "Graenlendiga Saga" and "Eirik's Saga", which tell the story of the discovery of North... Read morePublished on June 4, 2012 by John P. Ribner
This book has the real Viking Sagas, in particular the ones that tell how they found the America.Published on November 8, 2010 by Adriano Bueno
An outstanding read. I've been reading it every year for the last 5 to 8(?). Each time it gets more interesting. Read morePublished on May 18, 2010 by James Erickson
The Vinland Sagas
The Norse Discovery of America
By Magnusson & Palsson
The Vinland Sagas, like all the Edda's & Sagas, are very difficult to review. Read more
The Vinland Sagas are important in that they provide textual background for the Norse discovery of North America in the 10th-11th centuries. Read morePublished on June 20, 2008 by Christopher R. Travers