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Njal's Saga

Njal's Saga (also known as "The Story of Burnt Njal") is an epic of Icelandic literature from the 13th century, detailing the progress of a 50 year blood feud. Its author is believed to have been an inhabitant of south-east Iceland although little more is known. It has a deservedly high reputation as the greatest of the Nordic sagas and the breadth of its subject matter and the referentiality within the text indicate that the author must have been an extremely well-read and literate individual.

In a story as complex and broad as this one it is impossible to encapsulate the extent of the action, suffice it to say it tells a tale wherein Icelanders cross the North Sea to Scandinavia, a queen curses a marriage, men are slain on points of principle, the men leave their native land to seek fortune elsewhere, where sorcery is a commonplace and jealous women set men to killing each other. It is a story about the obligations of bloodlines, and what happens when ordinary people are confronted with violence. It is moreover about friendship, wherein the two friends Gunnar Hamundarson and Njal remain loyal friends despite the best efforts of women to drive a wedge between them.

It details events which were supposed to have occurred between 930 and 1020, and thus covers the period of Christian conversion in 1000, as well as detailing events at the Battle of Clontarf outside Dublin in 1014.

An online public domain edition of George Dasent's 1861 translation into English may be found at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Njal/

The Icelandic original text can be accessed at:


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