Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Sturluson, Snorri "Egil's Saga"

Sturluson, Snorri "Egil's Saga" (Icelandic: Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) - 1240 

This is certainly one of the oldest books I have ever read (with the exception of "Odyssey"). And it gave me a lot of pleasure. I learned a lot about the Vikings, a lot about history. I am not sure how accurate the historic events are but quite a few seemed familiar.

It's amazing how long a story like that survives, it was written almost nine hundred years ago and you can still read it. This is an authentic historical account of what people did in that time, what people thought about it. It shows us our past but I think it also shows us our future. Because, if we learn one thing from history is that men learn nothing from it, they still keep on fighting each other for pride and glory, even if they claim to have another reason.

Egil was a great poet but he was also a great warrior, a man who would get angry very quickly and his adversaries usually wouldn't get out alive from their differences with him. Excellent, unique story.

From the back cover:

"Demon, killer and drunkard, poet, lawyer and farmer: Egil is the most individual and paradoxical character to emerge from the Icelandic Sagas.

From the time when Egil performs his first murder at the age of six to the more peaceful years of his dotage, he dominates this panoramic Viking history. Ugly, brutal and ruthless on the one hand, intelligent and capable of great sensitivity on the other, he remains an ambivalent figure in the reader's imagination.

Egil's Saga is thought to have been written by Snorri Sturluson in about 1230. Embracing five generations, commencing with Egil's grandfathers and ending with Egil's grandson, it chronicles the wars, rivalries and tensions of the ruling clans of Iceland and Norway. Adding flesh to the bare bones of historical fact and blending invention with legend, the Saga gives a wide-ranging view of life in the Viking world of the ninth and tenth centuries."

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