Archive for January, 2011

New Year, New Books: Cambridge Introduction to the Sagas

Alas, our Christmas Book Flood wasn’t more than a trickle, and my list of interesting new books will have to spill over into the new year.

Next to reach the top of the pile is a volume I’m quite excited about, as there still are relatively few good general textbooks on Old Norse that are readily available for English-speaking students (Heather’s book is an honourable exception, of course). The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga, from the pen of the ever-productive Margaret Clunies Ross, will no doubt find its way onto syllabuses wherever Old Norse literature is taught.

This is what the blurb says about it:

The medieval Norse-Icelandic saga is one of the most important European vernacular literary genres of the Middle Ages. This Introduction to the saga genre outlines its origins and development, its literary character, its material existence in manuscripts and printed editions, and its changing reception from the Middle Ages to the present time. Its multiple sub-genres – including family sagas, mythical-heroic sagas and sagas of knights – are described and discussed in detail, and the world of medieval Icelanders is powerfully evoked. The first general study of the Old Norse-Icelandic saga to be written in English for some decades, the Introduction is based on up-to-date scholarship and engages with current debates in the field. With suggestions for further reading, detailed information about the Icelandic literary canon, and a map of medieval Iceland, this book is aimed at students of medieval literature and assumes no prior knowledge of Scandinavian languages.

I’ve had my copy for a few weeks now, and it is excellent, just as you’d expect. I’m requesting our library orders multiple copies and will be putting it on reading lists for all levels of classes next year.

P.S. Sorry about the inelegant picture placement–either WordPress has changed its coding or else I’ve forgotten how to do it with lack of practice!