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The Sagas of the Icelanders (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 1, 2001
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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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Top customer reviews
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!
First, to state what this book is not: it is not a collection which includes the semi-legendary sagas, such as Hrolf-Kraki and the Volsungs. It does not contain any King's sagas, such as in the Heimskringla. It is not concerned with any of the Sturlung Sagas of later Icelandic history. It does contain a very strong representative selection from among the Icelanders' Sagas, that is those that take place in Iceland, or whose protagonists are Icelanders abroad, during and just after the Viking Age. Finally, it does not contain every one of such sagas.
The book contains Egil's Saga, as well as the Vatnsdaela, the Laxardaela, Hrafnkel Frey's Godi, The Confederates, Gisli Sursson, Gunnlaug Serpent-Tongue, Ref the Sly, and the Vinland Sagas, as well as 6 short prose tales of other Icelanders, usually in foreign service.
There is a great deal of supplementary information about the different kinds of sagas, Ages of Icelandic history, Viking ship types, Icelandic social and political structure, the Icelandic calendar, as well as a generous dose of genealogical tables and maps of Iceland, Norway, Vinland, etc. with detail maps showing the action of the separate sagas.
I won't waste space describing the sagas themselves, under the assumption that someone considering purchasing this book has read at least one saga, and so knows what to expect from the genre. But I can't resist quoting an Icelandic scholar referred to in the introduction, who describes the Icelandic sagas as "farmers at fisticuffs."
I also own Njal's Saga, and once I acquire the Book of Settlements, these two works in addition to the present collection will probably complete my Icelandic saga needs, because this work is so thoroughly and attractively assembled.
I also recommend Viking Age Iceland by Jesse Byock as a companion volume to this one.