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This book at Gutenberg is a edition of two volumes that were published in Here is a short paragraph from the editor's preface: The present reprint has been prepared in order that this incomparable Saga may become accessible to those readers with whom a good story is the first consideration and its bearing upon a nation's history a secondary one—or is not considered at all.

For Burnt Njal may be approached either as a historical document, or as a pure narrative of elemental natures, of strong passions; and of heroic feats of strength. Some of the best fighting in literature is to be found between its covers. Sir George Dasent's version in its capacity as a learned work for the study has had nearly forty years of life; it is now offered afresh simply as a brave story for men who have been boys and for boys who are going to be men.

They abridged the translator's preface and introduction, and left out the maps and such that were part of the original publication. But even with the editing, these pieces are full of information which is important to know in order to understand the action of the story, the why of it all. In his introduction, the translator explained a great deal about Iceland society in the hundreds. He covered how the northmen arrived in Iceland, some superstitions they carried with them, their social principles, and their daily life.

All of this made it possible for me to see what was happening in the context of the times, and any future readers of this edition need to be sure not to skip this section. The events will make much more sense if you have this background in your mind as you read. But even so, it can be confusing at times. I lost track more than once of who was who, but I also was not able to spend much concentrated time with the book.

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So when I would get back to it, I had to keep reviewing where I was and who was doing what. I also lost a bit of my interest about halfway through, after one major character was killed off. It seems that Njal was not as active a man as I had expected hi to be in his own saga, and I had latched onto Gunnar as my hero.

But after he was killed, and the story shifted to what happened to his sons and Njal's own sons and the ongoing blood feuds that had escalated because of Gunnar's wife's behavior, I had more trouble staying involved. There were more new people and I was getting more and more lost. But I hung in there, although I admit to beginning to skim here and there. It is, as the quoted preface says, "a pure narrative of elemental natures". And sometimes I wondered how any families from those days managed to survive at all!

But I'm glad I read this, and I would like to read more sagas. I imagine Gutenberg will have some in their listings so I'll just mosey on over and see what titles I can find to add to my Someday Lists. Feb 13, Abi rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Those willing to branch out. Shelves: favourites , iceland , classical-and-medieval. One of the best sagas, without a doubt. Epic in scale, but still intensely human, the story of burnt-Njal is dramatic, moving and highly entertaining. The saga style takes some getting used to if you've never experienced it before.

It is terse, to the point, characterisation and description is kept to a bare minimum, the plot races along at break-neck speed, there's a plethora of characters a lot of whom have very similar names. It requires Although to readers of modern literature, the difficult style can be off-putting, it is definitely worth perservering because this is one of the greatest stories ever told. View 2 comments.

All very well, but more rare are the ones through which one can get a firm grip on the origin of 'How to Get Away with Murder' in all its sordid glory: abusing circumstantial technicalities, citing obscure parts of archaic rulings, fighting fire with fire, 3. All very well, but more rare are the ones through which one can get a firm grip on the origin of 'How to Get Away with Murder' in all its sordid glory: abusing circumstantial technicalities, citing obscure parts of archaic rulings, fighting fire with fire, all in the effort to, leastwise in terms of the main story, continue the toppling dominoes of a revenge tragedy.

I won't pretend I didn't find the TV show far more engaging than the saga, but that's a natural consequence of modern taste and modern law.

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You won't find habeas corpus or DNA evidence or drone surveillance in the world of Njal. Instead, you'll get outlaws, premonitions, fifty bajilliion witnesses, hundreds of judges, gigantic religious shifts, lawyers, and the kind of evidence based foresight that Sherlock would kill to have if he ever found himself the head of an 10thth century Icelandic household. One would think having multiple instances of a character uttering a string of events that are later replicated exactly in the narrative would dull rather than sharpen the intensity of the events, but often the logic is so strangely engaging that you wouldn't be surprised if such crafty plots of social manipulation had actually worked all those centuries ago.

The great thing about anonymous narratives is that the entire point is no one is supposed to know who wrote them.

Njal's Saga

This isn't a case of an Unknown, of course. The common route is commonly taken by those who confuse common sense with anything but the current hegemony of a dominant paradigm, which is why I subvert it when I can by reading anonymous works during Women in Translation Month of the Summer of Women. You could argue with this if you really wanted to, but then you'd have to take on the OED as part of your set of claims, although from the looks of it, their staff is too uniformly incompetent to give 'anonymous' as pure and self-effacing definition as it deserves.

This all has very little to do with Vikings and blood feuds and clairvoyance and everything to do with my own reasons for reading really old stuff, but as long as I'm prolonging its survival by reading it, no one has any credible reason to complain. As much as I am intrigued by and have been advised to pursue, my heart lies in literature, not law. This is why I liked Beowulf more, as it is, in one simplistic sense, prettier, as well as more poignant. One can admittedly extract far more juicy material from this saga's treasure trove of sociocultural norms of the period both written of and writing, but that would have been best served by reading this in academia, and I already spent my one work classes on Middlemarch , Paradise Lost , and The Canterbury Tales.

I would love to come back however, to see what I could see. Grad school, perhaps.

Jan 30, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: scandinavian-authors , own , all-timefavorites , theclassics. An amazing, tragic family drama and one of the greatest works I read in college. In fact, as you will note from my shelving, it's one of my favorite books of all time. This has everything: romance, heartbreak, action, legal drama. And it introduced me to Njal's son Skarp-Hedin, the greatest warrior of all time.

Full of snappy one-liners, able to decapitate five men with one blow, I tried to name my firstborn after him, but my husband said no. Nov 10, Clif Hostetler rated it it was ok Shelves: epic.

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Njal's Saga - Leifur Eiricksson, Anonymous - Google книги

It deserves respect because of its antiquity. But I found it be a challenge to get through. It is a long collection of stories about "so-and-so" of "such-and-such" family killing "so-and-so" of "such-and-such" family. The names were all exotic to my English language ears; thus it all passed through my memory as a blur. In this regard it reminded me of my reaction to the Iliad. However this book is much longer than the Iliad.


  1. Other Titles by Leifur Eiricksson.
  2. Ellie and the Kitchenettes Learn Shapes?
  3. Das Genre der Dokusoap. Die Sendung Frauentausch (German Edition).
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It seemed to go on forever. The importance of vengeance as a defense of family honor is a prominent theme in the saga. One description I thought of for the book was " Hatfield-MaCoy with swords. Also, fate and omens figure prominently in the stories. At the very end there is a description of reconciliation. But based on the earlier stories the reader has to wonder how long that will last. In my opinion if you don't have a special interest in Icelandic history and literature, don't read this book. However, I can see some lessons of human nature in the stories, so perhaps a researcher of gang warfare in modern cities could find source material here.

May 11, Duntay rated it it was amazing. A legal saga with gratuitious violence, revenge,strong characters and what I would call magical realism. It makes me want to visit the site of Njal's farm in Iceland - a country I am fascinated by but only get to pass through. And our cat is now called 'Ragnar Hairy - Breeks'. Oct 23, Rikkert Kuijper rated it it was amazing. The original Kill Bill. Jan 10, Larou added it. Njal's Saga is by far the longest of the sagas of the Icelanders, and it appears to be the general agreement that it is also the best among them, an assessment that I am not going to deviate from.

In principle, Njal's Saga is just like the other sagas The Sagas of Icelanders - it has their freshness and immediacy that are striking for texts that are hundreds of years old, it Njal's Saga is by far the longest of the sagas of the Icelanders, and it appears to be the general agreement that it is also the best among them, an assessment that I am not going to deviate from. In principle, Njal's Saga is just like the other sagas The Sagas of Icelanders - it has their freshness and immediacy that are striking for texts that are hundreds of years old, it has their sparse, laconic style, their reliance on action and dialogue, their absence of psychology and their emphasis on geographical and genealogical placement of their characters.

In short, it has everything the other sagas have - only more so. This is not just a matter of length - what I found most striking about Njal's Saga is how very vivid it is. It's language is not any more florid than of the other sagas, but just as reduced and simple, and yet it somehow manages to paint a much more colourful picture of the events it relates - it rather feels like the widescreen Technicolor version of a saga.

It probably does have something to do with its length, and that it dwells just that tiny but decisive bit longer on what a character is dressed in or what exactly he does in a fight, but I don't think that quite suffices to explains why people and events in this saga possess such an immense plasticity that makes their down-to-earth-ness almost tangible for the reader as if the book's pages were just a thin, icy mist behind which we catch glimpses of the untamed, violent Norsemen feasting, sailing and fighting each other.

Njal's Saga is also somewhat clearer structured than most other sagas - it consists of two quite distinct parts, the first being about Gunnar, the various strifes he got involved in and his final downfall, and the second the story of his friend Njal, his death and the vengeance for it. The first part takes place before the arrival of Christianity in Iceland, the second after its Christianization, in the first part most conflicts are solved peacefully, in the second most end in violence - one can't help but wonder whether there might not be be some implied reflection on Christianity on part of the anonymous author implied in that.

Another thing that places Njal's Saga apart is the uncommon emphasis it puts on the law - not only is it stated several times that it is the law that keeps a society together and that it will come apart if the law fails as is demonstrated by events in the saga , not only are there an uncommon lot of trials in this saga, but they are also described in unusual and, it has to be said, occasionally tiresome detail, to the point where Njal's Saga reads almost like the Medieval Icelandic version of courtroom drama.

There are some issues with this saga for the modern reader, chiefly its repetitiveness - basically, events here consist of a seemingly endless succession of slayings, trials, and vengeance which causes more slayings, more trials and more vengeance. There is not much difference in the way those events unfold either, so things can get somewhat tedious if one tries to read too much of the saga in one go, and therefore judicious rationing is strongly recommended.

Review: Njal’s Saga

And with the length of the saga, it becomes even more difficult to keep track of all the persons and their relations to each - thankfully, the Penguin Classics edition I was reading is not only excellently translated as far as I can judge that, of course but also very well-edited, with a helpful introduction and footnotes. This is definitely the saga one should read if one wants to read only one of them, although it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to stop after this one, they're as addictive as crisps at least unless they tried to read the whole thing at once - just like crisps one can easily overstuff oneself , but significantly more nutritious.

And while I don't usually don't do quote, I just have to put in this one, showing how just names mentioned in passing already are stories in a nutshell: "A man name Hoskuld lived there, the son of Dala-Koll. Ingiald's mother was Thorn, the daughter of Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye who was the son of Ragnar Shaggy-breeches. And maybe that is the reason why Njal's Saga impresses itself so vividly on the reader's mind: with all the fighting, the deaths and the maimings there is an astonishing amount of limbs getting cut off in the course of the saga , with all the underlying fatalism, there also is an air of joyousness blowing through these tales, a boundless glorying in life and its pleasures; and no matter how rough those might appear to the modern reader some of that exuberance jumps over like an electric spark across the centuries and makes this saga so much fun to read.

Jan 30, Hannah Notess rated it it was amazing Shelves: translated. So engrossing that I missed my bus stop once while reading on the bus. I think that is a good sign.