The Complete Sagas Of Icelanders by Vidar Hreinsson (general editor). Reykjavik. 1997. Leifur Eiriksson Publishing. hardcover. 5 Volumes. Editorial Team: Robert Cook, Terry Gunnell, Keneva Kunz, and Bernard Scudder. Introduction by Robert Kellogg.



complete sagas of icelandersFROM THE PUBLISHER -


    The first English translation of the entire corpus of the Sagas of Icelanders together with forty-nine Tales. Fifty translators and scholars from seven countries participated in this project. The Sagas of Icelanders are set in the Viking Age but written in Icelandic by anonymous authors during the 13th and 14th centuries. Their action spans the whole world known to the Vikings, but the stories centre on the unique settler society they founded in Iceland. Deeply rooted in the real world of their day, concise and straightforward in style, the Sagas explore perennial human problems: love and hate, fate and freedom. While steeped in Viking Age oral tradition, the Sagas depict the descendants of the settlers in Iceland, immediately before and after the year 1000, when they abandoned the ancient gods such as Odin and Thor and adopted Christianity. In this period, too, Icelanders ventured farther westwards; the culmination of this venture was Leif Eiriksson’s voyage to North America. The horizons of the Saga writers extended to the limits of the Viking world: westward to Greenland and Vinland, east to Russia and north to Lapland, south and east to Constantinople and Jerusalem. For sheer narrative artistry and skill of characterisation, the finest Sagas rank with the world’s greatest literary treasures – as epic as Homer, as deep in tragedy as Sophocles, as engagingly human as Shakespeare. The Sagas of Icelanders have served as a source of inspiration for many writers of later times – such diverse authors as Walter Scott, Jorge Luis Borges and W. H. Auden. Careful editorial planning and coordination ensured that the translators followed the same translation policy and produced the same high level of accuracy and readability. Coordination work included use of consistent English terms for key words and concepts, recurrent proverbs and phrases, and other cultural realia. The publishers are confident that these extensive editorial efforts have produced sound, quality translations. While they reflect the expertise of scholars in this specialist field, a prime concern was to produce a text in smooth and readable modern English. There are probably few examples of comparable coordinated translations of an entire literary corpus into another language. The Complete Sagas of Icelanders include extensive reference material: A comprehensive Introduction by Professor Robert Kellogg, Maps, Glossary, A Note on Poetic Imagery, Cross-Reference Index of Characters, Illustrations and Diagrams, and Tables. ‘In any case, there can be no arguing that the recent publication in English translations of the five-volume Complete Sagas of Icelanders, by Leifur Eiriksson Publishing in Reykjavik, erects a milestone on the international publishing scene.’ - Brad Leithauser, New York Review of Books. ‘All my literate life I have been looking for more English translations of the Sagas. To have them all, in this superb five-volume edition, is a dream come true.’- Ted Hughes, UK Poet Laureate. ‘The English is wonderfully accessible to this modern reader. Only now can I fully appreciate my own deep debt as a story-teller to Icelandic writers of long ago. Cheers!’- Kurt Vonnegut. ‘Although the glory of the sagas is indisputable, their literary influence would have been much greater if they had been written in the language of one of the major countries, and we would have regarded the sagas as an anticipation or even as the foundation of the European novel.’ - Milan Kundera. ‘The Sagas are the literature not only of the island where they were written, but of the whole Western world of their day. Even today, they provide the modern reader with fascinating insights; they are stories which reveal an immense variety of human conduct and condition.’- Jostein Gaarder.



Hreinsson VidarViðar Hreinsson grew up on a farm in Northern Iceland but studied Icelandic and literary theory in Iceland and Copenhagen. He is an independent literary scholar at the Reykjavik Academy and has taught and lectured on various aspects of Icelandic literary and cultural history at universities in both in Iceland and abroad, in Canada, USA and Scandinavia. He is the General Editor of the acclaimed The Complete Sagas of Icelanders I-V (1997), and he is the author of a two-volume biography of Icelandic Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson published in Iceland 2002 and 2003. The first volume was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize, and the biography as a whole received the 2003 Award for Excellence in Scholarly Writing. A rewritten English version of this biography, Wakeful Nights, was published in Canada in 2012. He has written a number of scholarly articles on medieval sagas, 17th century literature, manuscript culture and Icelandic emigrant literature. More recently Viðar has been an environmental activist, written two biographies, served as the director of the Reykjavík Academy, and pursued research in Icelandic literary culture and critical cultural theory. At present he is working on a ecocritical research project that will result in a monograph that will at the same time analyse and depict the 17th century conception of nature, and the life of Jón Guðmundsson the Learned (1574-1658), a self-educated scholar, historian, poet, sorcerer and artist.


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