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An Introduction to Old Norse Sagas

Sigurd the Dragon Slayer – detail of the 12th–century doorway from Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway, showing scenes from Völsunga Saga.

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 7th June, 2008

A beginner’s guide to the sagas and verse of the Northlands.

A day exploring the best preserved branch of the old literature of Germanic and Scandinavian peoples, the sagas of mediaeval Iceland. We shall consider how this branch – Iceland’s great contribution to world literature - grew from deep poetic roots and blossomed into such a rich prose literature. We shall look at examples of sagas concerned with the settlement of Iceland and its ‘Wild West’, the sagas of the ‘olden days’, and the kings’ sagas. Of great interest are the ways in which this literature casts light on Old English history and culture.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 King Harald Fairhair and the Settlement of Iceland  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.40 Verse and Saga  
  12.40 Lunch break  
  14:00 Sagas and Saints’ Lives  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Sagas and History  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993, which has been reprinted three times since. He has lectured widely around the country as a free-lance scholar and has also contributed to many television and radio programmes. His latest book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003. He is currently a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bengtsson, Frans G., The Long Ships, trans. M.Meyer (London 1954, 1956)
Byock, J.L., Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power (Hisarlik Press, 1988)
Byock, J.L., Viking Age Iceland (London, 2001)
Clunies Ross, M. (ed.) Old Icelandic Literature and Society (Cambridge, 2000)
DeVries, K., The Norwegian Invasion of England in 1066 (Woodbridge 1999)
Faulkes, A. (tr.), Snorri Sturluson: Edda (Dent Everyman 1987).
Garmonsway, G., & J.Simpson, Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent Everyman 1968, 1980)
Gordon, E.V., An Invitation to Old Norse, rev.A.R.Taylor (Oxford 1957, 1981)
Jones, G., A History of the Vikings (2nd Edition, Oxford 1984)
Lee, S. D., & E. Solopova, The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R.Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Magnusson, Magnus, The Vikings ( rev.ed. Tempus 2000)
Magnusson, Magnus, & Hermann Pálsson, Njal's Saga (Penguin Classics 1960)
Magnusson, Magnus, & Hermann Pálsson, King Harald's Saga (Penguin Classics 1966)
Miller, W.I., Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland (Chicago, 1990)
O’Donoghue, H., Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction (Blackwell, 2004)
Page, R.I., Chronicles of the Vikings: Records, Memorials and Myths (British Museum Press, 2000)
Pálsson, Hermann, & P.Edwards (tr.), Egil's Saga (Penguin Classics 1976)
Shippey, T. A., The Road to Middle-earth (Allen & Unwin 1982; rev. edn Harper Collins 2003)
Tolkien, C. (ed. & tr.), The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise (Nelson, London 1960)
Turville-Petre, Origins of Icelandic Literature (Oxford 1953)

Bookings

Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £38, payable to Wuffing Education to:

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)
Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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