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An Introduction to the Sagas of Icelanders$
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Carl Phelpstead

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066516

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066516.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 05 August 2021

Encountering the Sagas

Encountering the Sagas

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Encountering the Sagas
Source:
An Introduction to the Sagas of Icelanders
Author(s):

Carl Phelpstead

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813066516.003.0001

Chapter 1 is an introductory chapter. Between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, Icelanders produced as rich, varied, and extensive a vernacular literature as was produced anywhere in medieval Europe. That literature has been central to Icelandic cultural identity. It has also played a prominent role in the formation of national identity in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as well as in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany. Medieval Icelandic literature has also inspired many notable writers in English since the eighteenth century. This chapter begins by reading a couple of short episodes from Eiriks saga rauða in which Norse explorers encounter Native Americans as parallels to the encounter between modern readers and the medieval Icelandic sagas. The chapter goes on to consider what an Icelandic saga is and to delineate the different saga genres. It also introduces the language of the sagas, explaining the terms Old Norse and Old Icelandic.

Keywords:   Icelandic saga, cultural identity, Eiriks saga rauða, Old Norse, Old Icelandic, vernacular literature

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