Egil's Saga (Classics) Paperback – 25 Nov 1976
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Top Customer Reviews
The treatment of the poems is exemplary. Christine Fell notes in the preface that she had originally planned some sort of literal translation of the poems, with notes to explain the kennings. In the end this material is included in the notes but what you read in the translation are modern English poems. These were composed by John Lucas and they do not try to transliterate - they give the message of the poem in verse forms which usually capture the forms of the original, occasionally changing style to allow an easier reading of the message.
The poetry is key to the translation. Egil and several other characters compose poems and these would have formed an important part of the narration of the story. Without his poetry, Egil would be an uninteresting thug (with a few saving greys) and certainly not a hero.
I read through this translation with my bookmark in the back so that I could check the literal translation of the poem after I had read the modern one. The translation there uses the solution to each kenning, then gives a literal translation of the kenning in brackets. I knew something about kennings from Old English poetry but the Scandinavian kennings are a completely different order of word twisting as they pile on top of one another so that you have to solve one part before you can understand the next. An example (given in the preface) is "string of the pin of the tormentor of the shield". "Tormenter of the shield" is a sword (makes sense!), so that changes to "string of the pin of the sword".Read more ›
The narrative is fast-moving and action-packed, with fascinating insights into the world of the vikings. Besides Egil, the cast of characters includes the Norwegian kings Harold Finehair and Eirik Bloodaxe, Eirik's malicious queen Gunnhild, and the English king Athelstan.
It was a particularly good idea to employ a poet as co-translator to produce readable versions of Egil's poems (literal translations are also provided in the notes). There are some basic maps, and a family tree & biographical index are also provided in case you get lost among the various Thorolfs, Thorsteins & Thorgerds.
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