Comic Sagas and Tales from Iceland (Penguin Classics)
The capstone volume in Penguin Classics’ celebrated series of Icelandic sagas
Comic Sagas and Tales from Iceland brings together the very finest Icelandic stories from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, a time of civil unrest and social upheaval. With feuding families and moments of grotesque violence, the sagas see such classic mythological figures as murdered fathers, disguised beggars, corrupt chieftains, and avenging sons who do battle with axes, words, and cunning. The tales, meanwhile, follow heroes and comical fools through dreams, voyages, and religious conversions in medieval Iceland and beyond. Shaped by Iceland’s oral culture and its people’s conversion to Christianity, these stories are works of ironic humor and stylistic innovation.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
winter with him. Thormod refers to this division between them in the following verse from his memorial drapa to Thorgeir: 5. People have heard we had many slanderers who tried to come between us – but I enjoyed advice from the wound-snake’s reddener. [wound-snake: sword; its reddener: warrior, Thorgeir] Though men’s hatred I have felt, I will remember nothing but good between me and him, the steerer of wave-beasts. [wave-beasts: ships; their steerer: Thorgeir] 8 There was a ship laid
Thorstein pursued him with some of his farmhands and came upon Helgi by some islands, south of Hvitstadir, known as Langeyjar. Helgi and Thorstein fought, and Helgi was badly wounded. Knowing where both parties had gone, some other men arrived on the spot. They had good intentions towards both men and after they had separated them, they had them agree that Thorstein purchase the marshlands and compensate Helgi, as the law dictated, for the bloody wound he had dealt him. 13 There was a man named
I don’t expect you know how to use it.’ Thormod replied, ‘I’m not sure you can use it with more skill than I.’ ‘There is no doubt about the matter,’ said the man. Then Thormod spoke this verse: 21. He thinks he knows better than I how to wield this seal-spear – the shield of Balder boasts – [shield of Balder: warrior] the sea-steed’s tree races over rocks. [sea-steed: ship; its tree: seafarer] I remember more clearly whom the brave-hearted king placed first in his wall of shields; upon
outlawry; and then witnesses were named to testify that sentence had been delivered. At this juncture people went home to their booths. News of this did not spread that night, but next morning Odd stood up at the Law Rock and announced loudly: ‘A man called Ospak was declared an outlaw last night in the North Quarter court for the killing of Vali. This is the outlaw’s description: he is a big, manly-looking man, with brown hair and strongly marked cheekbones. He has dark eyebrows, big hands and
that Greenland had already been affected by a great scandal. I’ve had little to do with him because when I was in Iceland he was not like other men in his nature. On the contrary, he was a woman every ninth day and needed a man, and for that reason he was called Ref the Gay, and stories of his unspeakable perversions8 went around constantly. Now I’d like for you to have nothing to do with him.’ And then they left off this talk and went to butcher the bear. But Thorgils’s sons repeated this