Icelandic Sagas

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Icelandic Sagas. First written down in the 13th century, the sagas tell the stories of the Norse settlers of Iceland, who began to arrive on the island in the late 9th century. They contain some of the richest and most extraordinary writing of the Middle Ages, and often depict events known to have happened in the early years of Icelandic history, although there is much debate as to how much of their content is factual and how much imaginative. Full of heroes, feuds and outlaws, with a smattering of ghosts and trolls, the sagas inspired later writers including Sir Walter Scott, William Morris and WH Auden.

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  • Carolyne Larrington 5 episodes
    Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Literature at St John's College, Oxford
  • Elizabeth Ashman Rowe No other episodes
    University Lecturer in Scandinavian History at the University of Cambridge
  • Emily Lethbridge No other episodes
    Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Arni Magnusson Manuscripts Institute in Reykjavik

Reading list

  • Law and Literature in Medieval Iceland
    Theodore M. Andersson and William Ian Miller (Stanford University Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer
    Jesse L. Byock (trans.) (University of California Press, 1990) Google Books →
  • Viking Age Iceland
    Jesse Byock (Penguin, 2001) Google Books →
  • Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga
    Margaret Clunies Ross (Cambridge, 2010) Google Books →
  • Njal's Saga
    R. Cook (trans.) (Penguin, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Dynamics of Medieval Iceland: Political Economy and Literature
    E. Paul Durrenberger (University of Iowa Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • Three Icelandic Outlaw Sagas
    Anthony Faulkes (trans.) (Everyman, 2001) Google Books →
  • William Morris in Iceland: Questions of Travel
    Lavinia Greenlaw (Notting Hill, 2011)
  • The History of Iceland
    Gunnar Karlsson (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • Icelandic Manuscripts: Sagas, History and Art
    Jonas Kristjansson (trans. Jeffrey Cosser) (The Icelandic Literary Society, 1993) Google Books →
  • A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture
    Rory McTurk (ed.) (Blackwell, 2005) Google Books →
  • Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law and Society in Saga Iceland
    William Ian Miller (Chicago UP, 1990) Google Books →
  • Ethics and Action in Thirteenth-Century Iceland
    Gudrun Nordal (Odense UP, 1998) Google Books →
  • Old-Norse Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction
    Heather O'Donoghue (Oxford, 2004) Google Books →
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
    Jane Smiley (trans.) (Penguin, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: The Norse Medievalism of W. G. Collingwood and His Contemporaries
    Matthew Townend (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Vikings and the Victorians: Inventing the Old North in 19th-Century Britain
    Andrew Wawn (Brewer, 2002)
  • Sagas of Warrior-Poets
    Diana Whaley (trans.) (Penguin, 2002)

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Auto-category: 839.6 (Old Norse-Icelandic literature)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. The late Middle Ages was a period when literature flourished across Europe as never before.