Jolabokaflod

Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

The Saga of Grettir the Strong

Ice; Grettir the Strong; PCSaga of Icelanders

This book is included in The Icelanders Cometh crowdfunding campaign run by the Jolabokaflod Book Campaign to raise money for UK libraries to spend on titles translated into English by Icelandic authors to mark World Book Night and UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day in 2016.

Synopsis

Composed at the end of the fourteenth century by an unknown author, The Saga of Grettir the Strong is one of the last great Icelandic sagas. It relates the tale of Grettir, an eleventh-century warrior struggling to hold on to the values of a heroic age becoming eclipsed by Christianity and a more pastoral lifestyle.

Unable to settle into a community of farmers, Grettir becomes the aggressive scourge of both honest men and evil monsters – until, following a battle with the sinister ghost Glam, he is cursed to endure a life of tortured loneliness away from civilisation, fighting giants, trolls and berserks.

Grettir’s intentions are not necessarily bad, but he is ill-tempered and often does things that he later regrets. He is also very unlucky, so some of his actions have severe, unintended consequences.

A mesmerising combination of pagan ideals and Christian faith, this is a profoundly moving conclusion to the Golden Age of the saga writing.

 

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