The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason
Translated by Theodore M. Andersson
Oddr Snorrason, a Benedictine monk in northern Iceland in the late twelfth century, composed a landmark Latin biography of the legendary Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvason (died 1000 C.E.). This biography was soon translated into Icelandic, and the translation (though not the Latin original) is preserved in two somewhat differing versions and a small fragment of a third. The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason is the first English translation of this text, augmented by an introduction and notes to guide the reader.
There is a strong possibility that Oddr's biography was the first full-length saga of the Icelandic Middle Ages. It ushered in a century of saga writing that assured Iceland a unique place in medieval literature and in the history of prose writing. Aside from being a harbinger of the saga tradition, and indeed of the modern novel, The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason has its own literary merits, including an epic description of the great Battle of Svoldr, in which King Olaf succumbed. In significant ways the narrative of this battle anticipates the mature style of the classical sagas in the thirteenth century.
Theodore M. Andersson
Theodore M. Andersson is Professor of Germanic Studies Emeritus at Indiana University. He is the author of several books, including The Sagas of Norwegian Kings (1130–1265), The Partisan Muse in the Early Icelandic Sagas (1200–1250), Early Epic Scenery: Homer, Virgil, and the Medieval Legacy and The Legend of Brynhild; translator of The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason; and cotranslator, with Kari Ellen Gade, of "Morkinskinna": The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030–1157), all from Cornell.
The Sagas of Norwegian Kings (1130–1265)
In The Sagas of Norwegian Kings (1130–1265), Theodore M. Andersson offers an orientation to the category of Icelandic sagas known as "kings' sagas," a genre of Old Norse-Icelandic prose literature.
The Partisan Muse in the Early Icelandic Sagas (1200–1250)
A study of the genesis of Old Icelandic prose literature from its roots in oral tradition to the compilation of key early sagas at the beginning of the thirteenth century.
The Growth of the Medieval Icelandic Sagas (1180–1280)
Andersson introduces readers to the development of the Icelandic sagas between 1180 and 1280, a crucial period that witnessed a gradual shift of emphasis from tales of adventure and personal distinction to the analysis of politics and history.
The Earliest Icelandic Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings (1030–1157)
Morkinskinna ("rotten parchment"), the first full-length chronicle of the kings of medieval Norway (1030-1157), forms the basis of the Icelandic chronicle tradition. Based ultimately on an original from ca. 1220, the single defective manuscript was...