Jul 4, 2006

Complete Sagas of Icelanders
Vidar Hreinsson, General Editor; Introduction by Robert Kellogg. Reykjavik: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, 1997. 5 volumes.

What nicer gift for Christmas or a birthday than this? Everything you'd ever need, saga-wise. This set is a beautiful edition. The physical design of the spine and cover, the binding, and the typography are all superior. As the preface states, this set contains the "first complete, coordinated English translation of The Sagas..., forty in all, together with forty-nine of the shorter Tales...". It goes on to say that "editorial coordination has been a constant quest to balance the shared and independent characteristics of the sagas, and to re-create in English their diverse but distinctive world." They are organized by broad subject categores, such as "Tales of the Supernatural," "Regional Feuds," and so on. Reference materials are found at the end of Volume 5. All this, for just $500.

Sagas of Icelanders: A Selection

Preface by Jane Smiley; Introduction by Robert Kellogg. New York: Viking, 1997. 782 pg.

A more affordable book, containing ten sagas and seven tales reprinted from The Complete Sagas of Icelanders in one, large volume. The introduction, maps and reference materials provide context for the material, and are also excerpted from the Complete Sagas.

The selection...includes texts from most periods in the 'Age of Writing', but its chief aim is to show the diversity of good literature within the family saga canon, and it contains representatives of all main literary types, set in virtually all the known Viking world.If you don't have the money or the shelf space for the Complete Sagas, then this is an excellent alternative.

Or what about another favorite of mine, the Penguin Classics: small, transportable paperbacks, convenient to carry with you. The Penguin sagas have really excellent translators such as Hermann Pálsson and Magnus Magnusson. Many of the best sagas are available in Penguin editions...search the Penguin site using the term "sagas."

No comments: