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The Sagas of the Icelanders (World of the Sagas) Paperback – Deckle Edge, 24 Feb 2005


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The Sagas of the Icelanders (World of the Sagas) + The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) + The Poetic Edda (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141000031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141000039
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 5.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"One of the great marvels of World Literature.... This is a dream come true." --Ted Hughes"A testimony to the human spirit's ability not only to endure what fate may send it but to be renewed by the experience." --Seamus Heaney"The glory of the Sagas is indisputable." --Milan Kundera"Generally excellent, accurate and readable, these translations are sure to become the standard versions." --The Times Literary Supplement (London)

About the Author

Jane Smiley's ten works of fiction include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Moo, A Thousand Acres (which won the Pulitzer Prize), and most recently the bestselling Horse Heaven.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Egil's Saga is acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of the genre, a magnificently wrought portrait of poet, warrior and farmer Egil Skallagrimsson. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By ML Jensen on 9 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this in Iceland too, and it is a wonderful souvenir. I was familiar with most of the sagas already but many of them were far better translated than my old copies and I really loved revisiting the harsh and bloody tales that capture so much of the heroic and tragic that was Iceland's Viking history.
Readers need to know that this is not a complete collection and that arguably the most outstanding saga is missing here - namely Njal's Saga and if you are a keen saga reader you should definitely get this one too, as it is a rich and multi-layered tale of tremendous literary merit and also a fantastic read. I personally recommend the Magnus Magnuson translation. I imagine this was missed out of this collection because of its length. Nonethless, this volume contains real gems such as The Saga of Laxardal, Egil's Saga and Gisli's Saga as well as some lesser known tales.
I found the reference section at the back of this book both fascinating and incredibly useful. It has all sorts of gems such as a calendar of the old Icelandic month-names, as well as diagrams of ships and longhouses. I read it for sheer interest and I've also used it regulary for reference.
This is a huge tome, but it will provide many happy hours of reading. And it may well fill you with a desire to visit Iceland, where many of the locations in the sagas can be visited.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Morris on 19 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Just came back from Iceland, and bought this book during my visit there (needless to say, its cheaper on Amazon, but Ive got a Krona price tag :) ).
Ive always loved medieval literature, but this takes the cake. 500 years before anything we've previously experienced, you cant help but get involved with the characters, and this book gives you the base needed to understand the basics of the writing and context of the age so that you dont get lost, which is easy to do!
I spent 3 hours on my flight back to Barcelona transfixed with Egil's Saga, even though I had already heard the story during my visit.
I cant recommend this book enough.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Elena Batllo on 19 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
I too bought this in Iceland. Without a doubt, this volume is the best introduction to a magic, epic and ancient world that will surprise the reader with a realistic yet full of legend account of what life was almost 1000 years ago in bleak Iceland. The hardship of life, the winters, the unbeatable pursuit of maritime expeditions and the adventurous spirit of old Norsemen, the sorcery and the myths, the history buried under the layers of oral tradition, folk tales, magic, myths, love, death, war, power...a truly different world to get lost into, waiting to be explored.

On the other hand, the book offers enough scholarly advice and context regarding the sagas, the places mentioned, whatever is known of real events and authors, but it can also be read for the pure enjoyment of it, which I think is good too.

I truly recommend this to anyone with an interest in literature, history or both.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Irena Kolek on 30 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Only two words come out about that book: Purely Magical..
After reading it I asked myself why this world has only one Iceland...?? :)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By matthew smith on 27 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
I absolutely love this book it is deeply special, it is full of rich language, beautiful poetry, masculine identity, and humanity. The pace of the language used in the sagas makes the book a joy to read.

After reading this book I am going to read more myths and legends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By julie on 8 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Took me ages to read it but very good and kept me interested until the very end of the book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wyver on 23 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As "Burial Rites" was said to have similar themes I read the Laxdaela Saga in a single edition and having enjoyed that turned to the Jane Smiley collection of the most important sagas. The specially commissioned translations worked very well and I was fascinated by the tales and found myself immersed in the lives of the protagonists. There is a helpful introduction to each saga, giving the background to its writing and sometimes to the relevance of the period in Icelandic history in which it was first told. I found the general introduction very interesting and informative too as I did the maps and family trees. Having been twice to Iceland helped me visualise the landscapes and the settings for the tales but i don't think that is necessary to enjoy them. Njal's Saga is a major piece of work and very affecting but there are some shorter and lighter tales near the end of the book. I found a joke told in one that I was still telling in school 1,000 years later!
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dr. S. J. Wyatt on 9 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I was investigating buying this book on Kindle but beware - the Kindle edition advertised is not of the book it claims to be. It's an unattributed collection of pieces including the Prose Edda (easily available elsewhere) but none of the contents are those of Sagas of the Icelanders. So now I know why it's so cheap!
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