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The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 30, 1965


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 30, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441543
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Magnus Magnusson is an Icelander who has been resident in Scotland for most of his life, and is well-known for his presentation of the BBC's Mastermind. He is also chairman of the Scottish National Heritage. He studied English and Old Icelandic at Oxford University. Hermann Palsson studied Icelandic at the University of Iceland and Celtic at University College, Dublin. Formerly Professor of Icelandic at the University of Edinburgh and General Editor of the New Saga Library, he has written many books on the history and literature of medieval Iceland. He died in 2003. Magnus Magnusson is an Icelander who has been resident in Scotland for most of his life, and is well-known for his presentation of the BBC's Mastermind. He is also chairman of the Scottish National Heritage. He studied English and Old Icelandic at Oxford University. Hermann Palsson studied Icelandic at the University of Iceland and Celtic at University College, Dublin. Formerly Professor of Icelandic at the University of Edinburgh and General Editor of the New Saga Library, he has written many books on the history and literature of medieval Iceland. He died in 2003.

Customer Reviews

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I was enthralled by them and I highly recommend them to anyone.
Amazon Customer
Recorded in various sagas is the story of the discovery of Iceland, Greenland and the North American continent.
Kurt A. Johnson
These stories are full of insights and surprises; read them for both education and enjoyment.
Michael J. Mazza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on November 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Vinland Sagas" brings together English translations of two medieval Icelandic sagas: "Graenlendiga Saga" and "Eirik's Saga." These tales tell the story of the discovery and exploration of North America by the Norsemen in the 10th and 11th centuries. Together, they offer fascinating glimpses into a remarkable era in the history of the Americas.
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).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Spence the Elder on November 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
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. 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.

In Frith,
Spence

"Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc"
M. Addams
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bob Dial on October 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Vinland Sagas describe early Norse exploration of Greenland and North America. The two sagas, "Graenlendinga Saga" and "Eirik's Saga," amount to the only major written records of these adventures -- Eirik the Red's colonization of Greenland and Leif Eiriksson's landing on the North American continent, probably in L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, around the year 1000 AD. A mild climate and expert Norse seamanship made both discoveries possible.
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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
124 pages, containing maps including one from 1590. This book contains two sagas giving accounts of the Viking arrival and attempted settlement of New England (they called Vinland). The first is Graenlendinga Saga which first speaks to the discovery of Greenland by Erik the Red, and the further exploration of Vinland by his sons.
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.
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