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Norse-lit-bib - 5/18/01


Bibliography of Norse literature by Mistress Gunnora Hallakarva.


NOTE: See also the files: Norse-msg, books-Norse-msg, Norse-crafts-bib, Norse-women-bib, V-Arts-and-A-art, Norse-games-art, pst-Vik-Norse-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Subject: From the Norsefolk List

Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 21:26:15 -0000

From: "Gunnora Hallakarva" <gunnora at realtime.net>

Subject: Old Norse Poetry, Sayings and Stories


--- In Norsefolk at egroups.com, lambb77 at h... wrote:

> Hello. I have a question to ask. Is thare a good source for Viking

> era poems, sayings and short storys out thare? Im very interested

> in Viking era writings. Thank you.


I'm going to give some general info about various types of Old Norse

literature below, as well as a good many links to the small portions

available on-line.  Start with the on-line materials, but don't

forget to check your library or bookstore for some of the books --

the on-line materials, due to copyright restriuctions, are usually

very old translations, and not everything is available on-line.


Also, please note, that I have not listed every title possibly

available, neither the titles of the Viking works nor of modern

translations.  This is an introduction!


(1) Viking Poetry


There are, in general, three main types of Viking poetry.  The first

is Eddaic poetry, which is found in the Prose Edda.  Eddaic verse is

anonymous and is composed in relatively simple language and meters.

The themes are mythical or drawn from heroic legends. Stanzas vary in

number of lines within the same poem.


Another source which is not, strictly speaking, poetry is the Prose

Edda of Snorri Sturluson.  In the Prose Edda, Snorri was trying to

create a manual explaining the mechanics of Viking poetry, including

the mythological tales, meters, kennings, and so forth.  This was to

help others to understand the old poetry, but also to help poets who

came later to create Old Norse poetry in the same style.


Eddaic Poetry



* The Poetic Edda

Lee M. Hollander, trans. Poetic Edda. Austin. Univ. of Texas Press.

1962. 2ns Revised edition, 1986.  To order from Amazon.com:



Carolyne Larrington, trans. The Poetic Edda. World's Classics.  

Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1997. To order from Amazon.com:



Henry Adams Bellows, trans. The Poetic Edda. Edwin Mellen Press.

1991. To order from Amazon.com:



The Poetic Edda







* The Prose Edda

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. trans. Jean I. Young. Berkeley:

University of California Press. 1954. To order from Amazon.com:



Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. trans. Anthony Faulkes. Everyman

Paperback Classics. To order from Amazon.com:






The second type of Viking poetry is skaldic verse.  Skaldic poms are

usually attributed to named poets and many of them are praise poems

made for a specific jarl or king. Skaldic meters follow strict rules

and can be very complex in structure, and the language used is often

convoluted, kenning-rich, and a challenge for those unversed in the

poetic tradition to understand without footnotes.


A kenning is a riddling reference to one item or concept which does

not name it directly, but rather suggests it by the elliptical way in

which the subject is spoken of, which causes the listener or reader

to visualize the intended concept.


An example of a simple kenning is "wound-wand", which is a sword,

or "raven's-mead", which is blood, usually of men slain in battle.  A

complex kenning uses several layers of allusion.  


A two-level complex kenning might be, "ice of the hawk's land" --

"the hawk's land" is the wrist, and "ice of the wrist" is a silver



A three-level complex kenning might be, "chariot-Vidur of wondrous-

wide ground of Endil" is similarly deciphered. Endil is the name of a

legendary sea-king. "The sea-king's ground" therefore is the ocean.

This gives us "Chariot-Vidur of the ocean," which can also be read

as "Vidur of the chariot of the ocean." "Chariot of the ocean" is a

ship, giving us "Vidur of the ship." Vidur is one of the heiti or

alternate names of Odinn, and here is used to mean "god." The "god of

a ship" is its captain.  


Kennings can be even more complex than these, but a good translation

will usually include footnotes explaining them.


Skaldic Poetry


Bragi Boddason's Ragnarsdr‡pa.  Includes several variants of the


Norse text, as well as translation.



Lee M. Hollander, trans. The Skalds: A Selection of their Poems with

Introduction and Notes. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1945.


Roberta Frank.  Old Norse Court Poetry.  The Dr—ttkv¾tt Stanza.

Islandica 42.  Ithaca NY.  1978. Out-of-print, to have Amazon.com do

a book search for  it go to:



E.O.G. Turville-Petre.  Scaldic Poetry.  Oxford. 1976. Out-of-print,

to have Amazon.com do a book search for  it go to:



Russell Poole.  Skaldic Poetry in the Sagas.  PhD Dissertation.  

Toronto. 1975.  May be ordered from University Microfilms Inc.


Russell Poole.  Skaldic Verse and Anglo-Saxon History: Some Aspects

of the Period 1009-1016."  Speculum 62 (1987) pp. 265-298.


Dick Ringler. Formal Features of J—nas Hallgr’msson's Poetry

and the Present Verse Translations. 1996-1998.


Webpage accessed 29 Sept 2000. Contains an excellent description of

the features of skaldic poetry.


I'm also eagerly awaiting a book being written by Mistress Brynhildr

jarla Kormaksdottir, "Women Skalds: Voices from the Medieval North".  

She has it about half done, says her webpage.


The third type of Viking poetry are the Rune Poems.  The rune poems

are usually composed with a stanza for each of the runes, and we

think that these stanzas explain a bit about the meaning the runes

had in terms of divination.


Rune Poems


Bruce Dickins. Runic and Heroic Poems of the Old Teutonic Peoples.  

Cambridge. 1915.


The Rune Poems




(2) Viking Sayings


The formal term for "sayings" is "gnomic wisdom". The Book of

Ecclesiastes in the Bible is one example of this type of literature.  

The Vikings also had similar literature.  Certain sayings occur in

various places throughout the sagas and Eddas, but there is one

collection that really contains the greatest number of "Viking

sayings" in one place.  This would be the poem "Havamal", which is a

part of the Poetic Edda.  See the citations above under "Eddaic



(3) Viking Short Stories


The Vikings didn't really write short stories, at least not in the

sense that we use the term today.  Their prose literature was mostly

written down after the close of the Viking Age, and it is generally

thought that prior to that time these stories circulated orally.


There are three types of prose literature, generally speaking, these

being the saga, which can range in length from what we'd consider a

short story up to a novel, the þattr, which is generally a fairly

short story, and often makes up a small part of a longer saga, and

histories, which often resemble collections of sagas.  All three

types may have a basis in history, but should be understood to

be "historical fiction" and not undisputed fact.  There are also

stories that revolve around mythical and fantastic elements as well.


One good way of locating translations is to look in a bibliography.  

There may be newer ones by now, or supplements, but the one I know of



Fry, Donald K. Norse Sagas Translated into English: A Bibliography.

New York: AMS Press.  1980. Out-of-print, to have Amazon.com do a

book search for it go to:  



Below I've listed a number of print and on-line sources.  Often there

are several sources containing the same tale.  The listings are

headed with an asterisk followed by the Old Norse name for the story,

then any sources for the story that I happen to be aware of.


* Bandamanna Saga (The Saga of the Confederates)

Palsson, Hermann, trans. The Confederates and Hen-Thorir. (Bandamanna

Saga and H¾nsa-Þ—ris Saga). Edinburgh: Southside. 1975.  Out-of-

print, to have Amazon.com do a book search for it go to:  



* Egils saga Skallagrimssonar (The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson)

Fell, Christine, trans. Egil's Saga. London: J.M. Dent & Sons. 1975.

To order from  Amazon.com:



Palsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards, trans. Egil's Saga. Harmondsworth:

Penguin. 1976. To  order from Amazon.com:



* Eir”ks saga Rauða (The Saga of Eric the Red)

Jones, Gwyn, trans. The Norse Atlantic Saga. 2cnd ed. New York:

Oxford University Press.  1986. Out-of-print, to have Amazon.com do a

book search for it go to:  



Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson, trans. The Vinland Sagas: The

Norse Discovery of  America. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1965. To order

from Amazon.com:  





* Eyrbyggja Saga (The Saga of the Ere-Dwellers)

Palsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards, trans. Eyrbyggja Saga. Buffalo:

University of Toronto  Press. 1973. To order from Amazon.com:  





* Faereyinga Saga (The Faroe Islanders' Saga)

Johnston, George, trans. The Faroe Islanders' Saga. Canada. Oberon  

Press. 1975. Out-of-print, to have Amazon.com do a book search for it

go to:  



* Gautreks Saga

Palsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards, trans. Gautrek's Saga and Other

Medieval Tales. New  York: New York University Press. 1968. Out-of-

print, to have Amazon.com do a book search for  it go to:



* Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus (History of the Danes)



* Gisla saga Surssonar (The Saga of Gisli)

Johnston, George, trans. Gisla saga Surssonar (The Saga of Gisli).

Toronto: University of  Toronto Press. 1959. To order from




* Grettir's Saga (The Saga of Grettir the Strong)




* H¾nsa-Þ—ris Saga (The Saga of Hen-Thorir)

Palsson, Hermann, trans. The Confederates and Hen-Thorir. (Bandamanna

Saga and H¾nsa-Þ—ris Saga). Edinburgh: Southside. 1975.  Out-of-

print, to have Amazon.com do a book search for it go to:  



* Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson (Chronicle of the Kings of Norway)

Sturluson, Snorri. Heimskringla: Or the Lives of the Norse Kings.

1932; New York: Dover.  1990. To order from Amazon.com:  





* Heitharviga Saga (The Saga of the Heath-Slayings)



* Hrafnkels Saga Freysgoði (The Saga of Hrafnkel Frey's-Priest)


Palsson, Hermann, trans. Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories.

New York: Penguin.  1983. To order from Amazon.com:  





* Kormak's Saga (The Saga of Kormak the Skald)

Hollander, Lee M., trans. The Sagas of Kormak and the Sworn Brothers.

Princeton: Princeton  Univ. Press. 1949.





* Laxdaela Saga

Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson, trans. Laxdaela Saga.

Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1969.

To order from Amazon.com:





* Njal's Saga (also Brennu-Njals Saga, or The Saga of Burn Njal)

Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson, trans. Njal's Saga.

Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1960.  To order from Amazon.com:





* Orkneyingasaga (Saga of the Earls or Orkney)

Magnusson, Magnus and Hermann Palsson, trans. Orkneyinga Saga: The

History of the Earls of  Orkney. New York: Penguin. 1978. Reprint

1985. To order from Amazon.com:  



* Sturlunga Saga

McGrew, Julia H. and R. George Thomas, trans. Sturlunga Saga. 2 vols.

New York: Twayne.  1970 and 1974. To order from Amazon.com:  



* Vatnsdoela Saga. (Saga of the Men of Water-Dales)

Jones, Gwyn, trans. The Vatnsdaler's Saga. New York: Princeton

University Press. 1944.


* Volsungasaga (The Saga of the Volsungs)




I think this should be enough to get you started!




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org