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On reading the icelandic sagas: Approaches to old icelandic texts

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Chapter Summary

The Old Icelandic sagas were written primarily in a period of at briefest the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, though composition and re-composition continued long thereafter. The term 'saga', as used in modern English critical terminology for the texts, and to some extent in the manuscripts of the texts themselves, refers to a narrative text, mostly prose though it often contains poetry, which is more or less complete in terms of the causal structure which constitutes its narrative. Modern scholars divide the corpus of sagas into several 'genres'. Those most commonly known as the 'Icelandic sagas' are the 'Sagas of Icelanders', a group of approximately thirty or forty texts, depending on how they are counted. The truth-values of most Old Icelandic vernacular prose are necessarily associated with the problems of 'fiction' in the sagas, and of the origins of the sagas.

Keywords: fiction; genres; Old Icelandic sagas



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