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Egil's Saga (Classics) Paperback – 25 Nov 1976

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Reprint edition (25 Nov. 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140443215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443219
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 777,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read, though the blurb says he is a demon and killer, the writer makes you feel for him in a way you wouldn't imagine. His poetry is straight from the heart and I think it is some of the best to come from Iceland. You have to read this book.
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Format: Paperback
Anyone wondering which saga to read first will find this the most accessible. Although it falls short of the grandeur of Njal's Saga, Egil's Saga has the most exciting narrative and, in the protagonist, one of the greatest characters of Icelandic literature. Buy the Everyman version rather than the Penguin though because it's much better on Egil's poetry. And look out for the wonderfully eerie passage at the start when the minor kingdoms of Norway are being united by force. One of the kings can't bear the prospect of defeat so he leads his men into a barrow to be buried alive. Good stuff!
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Format: Paperback
The translation of this saga is well written and the supporting commentary, both annotated and the translator's comments which preface the material are clear and do not get in the way of telling the story.

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".
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Format: Paperback
This is my favourite saga and the Everyman translation reads better than the Penguin equivalent. Still, the straightforward, unfussy manner of the writing, typical of Icelandic sagas, may be a little disconcerting to those accustomed to the more elaborate style of modern historical novels.

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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Format: Paperback
Vey good introduction to Saga`s .Introduction as in it was my first read on the subject. Was more disjointed than I expected but was strung together to give a good feeling for the way of life and a little bit of an insight into what made them tick.
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