Six medieval tales of trolls, vikings and arctic giants
The Icelandic sagas are one of the world's great literary treasures. Between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries, countless heroes and heroines were commemorated, celebrated and mocked in hundreds of vivid, engaging prose narratives. These were copied and retold in many thousands of manuscripts, bringing the past to life for generations of Icelanders and helping them to while away the winter evenings - but only a few `classics' are well-known to English-speaking readers today. This book takes a wider view, allowing glimpses of a colourful world where fact and fancy mingle, and myth blends into history.
In these tales - some translated here for the first time - we encounter a humble Icelandic scholar dreaming of a glamorous Viking past, a royal adventurer evading the horrible lusts of trollwomen as he quests across the known world, a demon popping out of a lavatory, the terrifying death spasms of the old Northern gods, bloody and unnatural acts in Muslim Germany, and foggy Arctic shores, haunted by lost tales of vanished giants. Ralph O'Connor's translations are faithful to the tone as much as the language of the originals. His introduction gives a lively account of the genre, enabling the reader to enjoy this richly varied literature on its own terms.
Ralph O'Connor is Fellow in Irish and Icelandic Literature at St John's College, Cambridge, and lectures in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic. His publications include work on Irish and Icelandic sagas, English Romantic poetry, and nineteenth-century dinosaurs.