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The Sagas of Icelanders Paperback – 2000
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The prose literature of medieval Iceland is a great world treasure - elaborate, various, strange, profound, and as eternally current as any of the other great literary treasures - the Homeric epics, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the works of William Shakespeare or of any modern writer you could name. Mysteries surround these stories - how were they composed and by whom? what were the motives of the authors? Why were they written in prose when the currency of medieval literature was poetry? How did their contemporaries understand them - did they even read them, or did they hear them read aloud? But the questions fall away as we read the sagas and tales themselves. They are written with such immediacy and forthrightness and they concern such basic human dilemmas that for the most part they are readily accessible and seductive. Reading one creates the appetite for another and another. In the present volume, Penguin has drawn upon the newly translated and edited Complete Sagas of Icelanders to offer the English-speaking reader a rich selection of Icelandic prose. Long and short, complex and simple, fantastic and realistic - there is a taste of everything here, an abundant introduction to a world a thousand years separated from ours, both intensely familiar and intensely strange.
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My one gripe is that there is no list (that I could find at least) of which sagas and tales are included in this book, which happens to be some pretty important information for someone who's looking to quickly beef up their library with Norse Literature.
So, in order to save anyone I can some time, and possibly money, I've listed all the sagas and tales included in this book here:
The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal
The Saga of the People of Laxardal
Bolli Bollason's Tale
The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's Godi
The Saga of the Confederates
Gisli Sursson's Saga
The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue
The Saga of Ref the Sly
The Saga of the Greenlanders
Eirik the Red's Saga
The Tale of Thorstein Staff-Struck
The Tale of Halldor Snorrason II
The Tale of Sarcastic Halli
The Tale of Thorstein Shiver
The Tale of Audun from the West Fjords
The Tale of the Story-Wise Icelander
I hope that you find this list helpful!
The actual Saga of the Icelanders is excellent. I agree with the other reviewers. However, just make sure you buy the correct kindle edition. The cheap one is actually a public domain version from 1879 or thereabouts. If it sounds like too good of a bargain, double check that the cover looks correct before buying!
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.