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The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga
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The medieval Norse-Icelandic saga is one of the most important European vernacular literary genres of the Middle Ages. This Introduction to the saga genre outlines its origins and development, its literary character, its material existence in manuscripts and printed editions, and its changing reception from the Middle Ages to the present time. Its multiple sub-genres - including family sagas, mythical-heroic sagas and sagas of knights - are described and discussed in detail, and the world of medieval Icelanders is powerfully evoked. The first general study of the Old Norse-Icelandic saga to be written in English for some decades, the Introduction is based on up-to-date scholarship and engages with current debates in the field. With suggestions for further reading, detailed information about the Icelandic literary canon, and a map of medieval Iceland, this book is aimed at students of medieval literature and assumes no prior knowledge of Scandinavian languages.


'Clunies Ross manages to provide just the sort of introduction to the sagas that any teacher of Old Norse (among those whose interest in the subject transcends the merely linguistic, at least) would wish their students to read, in a compact, accessible and attractively priced volume.'

Source: Saga-Book

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Guide to further reading
1. Medieval Iceland
Brink, Stefancollaboration with Neil PriceThe Viking WorldLondon and New YorkRoutledge 2008
Byock, JesseViking Age IcelandLondon and New YorkPenguin Books 2001
Clover, CarolLindow, JohnOld Norse-Icelandic Literature. A Critical GuideLondonCornell University Press 1985
Margaret, Clunies RossOld Icelandic Literature and SocietyCambridge University Press 2000
Foote, Peter GWilson, David MThe Viking AchievementLondon 1980
Karlsson, GunnarIceland's 1100 Years. History of a Marginal SocietyLondonHurst & Company 2000
Hastrup, KirstenCulture and History in Medieval Iceland. An Anthropological Analysis of Structure and ChangeOxford University Press 1985
Lindow, JohnHandbook of Norse MythologyEngland 2001
McTurk, RoryA Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and CultureMalden, Mass., Oxford and Carlton, VictoriaBlackwell Publishing 2005
Meulengracht Sørensen, PrebenThe Unmanly Man. Concepts of Sexual Defamation in Early Northern SocietyOdense University Press 1983
Vésteinsson, OrriThe Christianization of Iceland. Priests, Power, and Social Change 1000–1300Oxford University Press 2000
Pulsiano, PhillipWolf, KirstenMedieval Scandinavia. An EncyclopediaNew York and LondonGarland Publishing 1993
Karlsson, StefánThe Icelandic LanguageUniversity College LondonViking Society for Northern Research 2004
Hreinsson, ViðarThe Complete Sagas of Icelanders including 49 TalesReykjavíkLeifur Eiríksson Publishing 1997
Helgason, AgnarHickey, EGoodacre, SBosnes, VStefánsson, KáriWard, RSykes, BmtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic: Estimating the Proportions of Norse and Gaelic AncestryAmerican Journal of Human Genetics 68 (2001) 723
Sigurðsson, GísliGaelic Influence in Iceland: Historical and Literary Contacts. A Survey of ResearchReykjavíkUniversity of Iceland Press 2000
Price, T. DouglasGestsdóttir, Hildur‘The First Settlers of Iceland: An Isotopic Approach to Colonisation’Antiquity 80 (2006) 130
2 What is an Old Norse-Icelandic saga?
Margaret, Clunies RossA History of Old Norse Poetry and PoeticsCambridgeD. S. Brewer 2005
Harris, JosephGenre and Narrative Structure in some Scandinavian Studies 44 (1972) 1
O’Donoghue, HeatherSkaldic Verse and the Poetics of Saga NarrativeOxford and New YorkOxford University Press 2005
Schier, KurtSagaliteraturStuttgart 1970
Ólason, VésteinnDialogues with the Viking Age. Narration and Representation in the Sagas of the IcelandersReykjavík 1998
3 The genesis of the Icelandic saga
Andersson, Theodore MThe Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180–1280)LondonCornell University Press 2006
Byock, JesseModern Nationalism and the Medieval SagasNorthern Antiquity. The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and SagaLondonHisarlik Press 1994
Clover, CarolThe Long Prose FormArkiv för nordisk filologi 101 (1986) 10
Clover, CarolThe Medieval SagaIthaca and LondonCornell University Press 1982
Sveinsson, Einar ÓlDating the Icelandic Sagas. An Essay in MethodLondon 1958
Sigurðsson, GísliThe Medieval Icelandic Saga and Oral Tradition. A Discourse on MethodEnglandHarvard University Press 2004
Gordon, E. VOn Hrafnkels saga FreysgoðaMedium Ævum 8 (1939) 1
Nordal, GuðrúnTools of Literacy. Toronto, Buffalo and LondonToronto University Press 2001
Heusler, AndreasDie Anfänge der isländischen SagaKleine Schriften388Berlin 1969
Liestøl, KnutThe Origin of the Icelandic Family SagasOsloH. Aschehoug & Co and Harvard University Press 1930
Lönnroth, LarsNjáls Saga. A Critical IntroductionBerkeley, Los Angeles and LondonUniversity of California Press 1976
Maurer, KonradUeber die Hœnsa-Þóris sagaAbhandlungen der philos.-philol. Classe der königlichen bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 12 1871 157
Ong, Walter JOrality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the WordNew York and London 1982
Nordal, SigurðurHrafnkatlaReykjavík 1940
4 Saga chronology
Arnold, MartinThe Post-Classical Icelandic Family SagaQueenston and LampeterThe Edwin Mellen Press 2003
Sveinsson, Einar ÓlSturlungaöld. Drög um íslenzka menningu á þrettándu öldReykjavík 1940
Hofmann, DietrichDie und Oddr munkr inn fróðiSpecvlvm Norrœnvm: Norse Studies in Memory of Gabriel Turville-Petre188Odense University Press 1981
Kristjánsson, JónasUm FóstbræðrasöguReykjavík 1972 311
Tulinius, TorfiThe Matter of the North. The Rise of Literary Fiction in Thirteenth-Century IcelandOdense University Press 2002
Ólason, Vésteinn 2005
Thorsson, Örnólfur“Leitin að landinu fagra”: Hugleiðing um rannsóknir á íslenzkum fornbókmenntum’Skáldskaparmál 1 (1990) 28
5 Saga subjects and settings
Andersson, Theodore MThe Displacement of the Heroic Ideal in the Family SagasSpeculum 45 (1970) 575
Jakobsson, Ármann 2005
Barnes, GeraldineThe Riddarasögur: A Medieval Exercise in TranslationSaga-Book of the Viking Society 19 1977 403
Barnes, Geraldine 1993 531
Faulkes, AnthonyDescent from the godsMediaeval Scandinavia 11 1982 197892
Glauser, Jürg372 2005
Nordal, GuðrúnEthics and Action in Thirteenth-Century IcelandOdense University Press 1998
Kalinke, Marianne EBridal-Quest Romance in Medieval IcelandIthaca and LondonCornell University Press 1990
Kalinke, Marianne E 1993 528
Kalinke, Marianne ENorse Romance I. The Tristan Legend. II. The Knights of the Round Table. III. Hærra IvanCambridgeD. S. Brewer 1999
Lindow, John‘The Social Semantics of Cardinal Directions in Medieval Scandinavia’Mankind Quarterly 34 (1994) 209
Lönnroth, LarsThe Noble Heathen: A Theme in the SagasScandinavian Studies 41 1969 1
Ney, AgnetaJakobsson, ÁrmannLassen, AnnetteFornaldarsagaerne. Myter og virkelighedCopenhagenCopenhagen University 2009
Bragason, Úlfar427 2005
Whaley, Diana161 2000
6. Saga mode, style and point of view
Andersson, Theodore MMiller, William IanLaw and Literature in Medieval Iceland. Ljósvetninga saga and Valla-Ljóts sagaStanford University Press 1989
Bartlett, RobertThe Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle AgesCambridge University Press 2008
Margaret, Clunies RossRealism and the Fantastic in the Old Icelandic SagasScandinavian Studies 74 2002 443
Poole, RussellSkaldsagas. Text, Vocation, and Desire in the Icelandic Sagas of PoetsBerlin and New York 2001
Sigurðsson, Gísli 2007
Lönnroth, Lars 1976
Sävborg, Daniel 2009
7 Saga structures
Andersson, Theodore MThe Icelandic Family Saga. An Analytic ReadingCambridge, MassHarvard University Press 1967
Byock, Jesse LFeud in the Icelandic SagaBerkeleyUniversity of California Press 1982
Clover, Carol. JScene in Saga CompositionArkiv för nordisk filologi 89 (1974) 57
Faulkes, Anthony 2009
Gennep, Arnold vanLes rites de passage. Étude systématique des ritesParis 1909 LondonRoutledge and Kegan Paul
Hume, KathrynBeginnings and Endings in the Icelandic Family SagasModern Language Review 68 (1973) 593
Lévi-Strauss, ClaudeStructural AnthropologyNYDoubleday Anchor Books 1968
Lindow, JohnLönnroth, LarsWeber, Gerd WolfgangStructure and Meaning in Old Norse Literature. New Approaches to Textual Analysis and Literary CriticismOdense University Press 1986
Lönnroth, Lars 2007
Miller, William IanAudun and the Polar Bear. Luck, Law and Largesse in a Medieval Tale of Risky BusinessLeiden 2008
Propp, VladimirMorphology of the FolktalePhiladelphia 1958 University of Texas Press
Schjødt, Jens PeterInitiation between Two Worlds. Structure and Symbolism in Pre-Christian Scandinavian ReligionOdenseUniversity Press of Southern Denmark 2008
8 The material record: how we know the sagas
Benedikz, Benedikt SÁrni Magnússon – Where Would We Be Without HimUniversity of Nottingham 2002
Einarsson, BjarniEgils saga SkallagrímsonarUniversity College London 2003
Brown, Michelle PThe British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts. History and TechniquesLondon 1998
Gunnlaugsson, Guðvarður Már 2005
Haugen, Odd EinarStitching the Text Together: Documentary and Eclectic Editions in Old Norse PhilologyCreating the Medieval Saga. Versions, Variability and Editorial Interpretations of Old Norse Saga LiteratureOdenseUniversity Press 2010
Benediktsson, HreinnEarly Icelandic Script as Illustrated in Vernacular Texts from the Twelfth and Thirteenth CenturiesReykjavík 1965
Nichols, Stephen GIntroduction: Philology in a Manuscript CultureSpeculum 65 (1990) 1
Nordal, SigurðurTime and VellumM. H. R. A. Annual Bulletin of the Modern Humanities Research Association 24 (1952) 15
9 Changing understandings of the sagas
Margaret, Clunies RossThe Norse Muse in Britain 1750–1820TriesteEdizioni 1820
Driscoll, Matthew J83 1994
Driscoll, Matthew JThe Unwashed Children of Eve. The Production, Dissemination and Reception of Popular Literature in Post-Reformation IcelandLondonHisarlik Press 1997
Glauser, JürgIsländische Märchensagas. Studien zur Prosaliteratur im spätmittelalterlichen IslandBasel and Frankfurt am MainHelbing und Lichtenhahn 1983
Glauser, Jürg101 1994
Helgason, Jón Karl64 2005
Kennedy, JohnTranslating the Sagas. Two Hundred Years of Challenge and ResponseTurnhoutBrepols 2007
Wawn, AndrewNorthern Antiquity. The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and SagaLondonHisarlik Press 1994
Wawn, Andrew 2005
Wawn, Andrew 2000 The Vikings and the Victorians. Inventing the Old North in Nineteenth-Century BritainCambridgeD. S. Brewer
Zernack, JuliaBibliographie der deutschsprachigen Sagaübersetzungen 1791–1955BerlinFreie Universität Berlin 1997
Zernack, JuliaGeschichten aus Thule. Íslendingasögur in Übersetzungen deutscher GermanistenBerlinFreie Universität Berlin 1994


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