Sagas of Icelanders
The sagas of Icelanders (Icelandic: Íslendingasögur, modern Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈistlɛntiŋkaˌsœːɣʏr̥]), also known as family sagas, are one genre of Icelandic sagas. They are prose narratives mostly based on historical events that mostly took place in Iceland in the ninth, tenth, and early eleventh centuries, during the so-called Saga Age. They were written in Old Icelandic, a western dialect of Old Norse. They are the best-known specimens of Icelandic literature.
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Eventually many of these Icelandic sagas were recorded, mostly in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The 'authors', or rather recorders of these sagas are largely unknown. One saga, Egil's Saga, is believed by some scholars to have been written by Snorri Sturluson, a descendant of the saga's hero, but this remains uncertain. The standard modern edition of Icelandic sagas is produced by Hið íslenzka fornritafélag ('The Old Icelandic Text Society'), or Íslenzk fornrit for short.
Historical time frame
Among the several literary reviews of the sagas is that by Sigurður Nordal's Sagalitteraturen, which divides the sagas into five chronological groups (depending on when they were written not their subject matters) distinguished by the state of literary development:
- 1200 to 1230 – Sagas that deal with skalds (such as Fóstbrœðra saga)
- 1230 to 1280 – Family sagas (such as Laxdæla saga)
- 1280 to 1300 – Works that focus more on style and storytelling than just writing down history (such as Njáls saga)
- Early fourteenth century – Historical tradition
- fourteenth century – Fiction
List of sagas
- Atla saga Ótryggssonar
- Bandamanna saga – Bandamanna saga
- Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss
- Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa
- Droplaugarsona saga
- Egils saga Skalla-Grímssonar – Egil's Saga
- Eiríks saga rauða – Saga of Erik the Red
- Eyrbyggja saga
- Færeyinga saga
- Finnboga saga ramma
- Fljótsdæla saga
- Flóamanna saga
- Fóstbræðra saga (two versions)
- Gísla saga Súrssonar, (two versions) of an outlaw poet – Gísla saga
- Grettis saga – Saga of Grettir the Strong
- Grænlendinga saga – Greenland saga
- Gull-Þóris saga
- Gunnars saga Keldugnúpsfífls
- Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu
- Hallfreðar saga (two versions)
- Harðar saga ok Hólmverja
- Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings – The saga of Hávarður of Ísafjörður
- Heiðarvíga saga
- Hrafnkels saga
- Hrana saga hrings (post-medieval)
- Hænsna-Þóris saga
- Íslendingabók (One of the earliest sages written about the founding of Iceland by a priest called Ari Þorgilsson working in the early 12th century)
- Kjalnesinga saga
- Kormáks saga
- Króka-Refs saga
- Laurentius Saga
- Laxdæla saga
- Ljósvetninga saga (three versions)
- Njáls saga
- Reykdæla saga ok Víga-Skútu
- Skáld-Helga saga (known only from rímur and later derivations of these)
- Svarfdæla saga
- Valla-Ljóts saga
- Vatnsdæla saga
- Víga-Glúms saga
- Víglundar saga
- Vápnfirðinga saga
- Þorsteins saga hvíta
- Þorsteins saga Síðu-Hallssonar
- Þórðar saga hreðu
- Ölkofra saga
A small number of sagas are thought to have existed and now to be lost. One example is the supposed Gauks saga Trandilssonar.
- Myers, Ben (2008-10-03). "The Icelandic Sagas: Europe's most important book?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
- Egil's Saga, English translation, Penguin Books, 1976, introduction by Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards, p. 7
- Sigurður Nordal had this to say in his edition of Egils saga: "This matter will never be settled fully with the information we now have. … As for me, I have become more and more convinced, as I gained a better understanding of Egils saga that it is the work of Snorri, and I will henceforth not hesitate to count the saga among his works, unless new arguments are presented, which I have overlooked."
- Lönnroth, Lars (1976). Njáls Saga. London: University of California Press. pp. 204–205. ISBN 0-520-02708-6 – via Internet Archive.
- Arnold, Martin (2003). The Post-Classical Icelandic Family Saga. Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press
- Falk, Oren. 2021. Violence and Risk in Medieval Iceland: This Spattered Isle. Oxford University Press.
- Jakobsson, Ármann. 2013. Nine Saga Studies: The Critical Interpretation of the Icelandic Sagas. University of Iceland Press.
- Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). The History of Iceland. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
- Liestol, Knut (1930). The Origin of the Icelandic Family Sagas. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press
- Miller, William Ian (1990). Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
- Nine Saga Studies: The Critical Interpretation of the Icelandic Sagas.