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(12/21/2014) Eyrbyggja Saga by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards (translators). Toronto and Buffalo. 1973. University of Toronto Press. 198 pages.  hardcover. The cover drawing is adapted from a carving on a medieval cabinet door in the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik.  Translated from the Old Icelandic by Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards.  0802019420 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER - 

 

   ‘Of all the various records of Icelandic history and literature,’ wrote Sir Walter Scott, ‘there is none more interesting than Eyrbyggja Saga.’ Probably composed soon after 1250, this saga is part of the mainstream of medieval Icelandic literature and has been regarded as one of the most remarkable of the classical sagas of Icelanders. Its central is figure is Snorri the Priest, ‘a very shrewd man with remarkable foresight, a long memory, and a taste for vengeance,’ whose friends found in him a wise counselor, but whose enemies learned to dread his advice. During his lifetime (963-1031) Iceland officially adopted Christianity; and, although formerly a pagan priest, Snorri did more than anyone else to persuade his fellow countrymen to question the values of their ancestral faith. Eyrbyggja Saga as a complex structure in which eerie ghost-stories are interwoven with sober and realistic accounts of life in Iceland a thousand years ago. There are also antiquarian and gothic elements, unquiet graves of the malevolent dead, violent encounters with Vikings and berserks, which are recounted in a pervasive heroic spirit. On the surface, this saga reads like an historical record tracing the lives of several generations from the late ninth century to the early eleventh, but underlying that is a description of a community progressing from lawlessness to collective responsibility. The subtle and sophisticated narrative of Eyrbyggja Saga makes a searching examination of the internal conflicts which rapid social change arouses in any transitional society.

The translators both taught at the University of Edinburgh, where HERMAN PALSSON was reader in Icelandic and PAUL EDWARDS was a senior lecturer in English.

 

 

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