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Morkinskinna - Theodore M. Andersson

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Morkinskinna - the earliest Icelandic chronicle of the Norwegian kings (1030-1157)
Theodore M. Andersson
Cornell University Press
UK Publication Date

Morkinskinna ("rotten parchment"), the first full-length chronicle of the kings of medieval Norway (1030-1157), forms the basis of the Icelandic chronicle tradition. Based ultimately on an original from ca. 1220, the single defective manuscript was written in Iceland ca. 1275. The present volume, the first translation of Morkinskinna in any language, makes this literary milestone available to a general readership, with introduction and commentary to clarify its position in the history of medieval Icelandic letters.

The book is designed to be used by readers with no knowledge of Icelandic. The translation is keyed to, and may be used in conjunction with, the existing diplomatic editions. Notes on the manuscript problems, as well as introductory and appended matter, augment the text. Above all, Kari Ellen Gade's edition of the skaldic stanzas provides a substantial initial step toward a future edition of the Icelandic text: Morkinskinna is the first large-scale repository of skaldic verse. Morkinskinna also includes many semi-independent tales that recount the adventures of individual Icelanders at the Norwegian court. These tales, with their often humorous or ironic inflections, shift the focus of the chronicle from the deeds of the kings to the Icelandic perception of Norwegian royalty.

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Theodore M. Andersson, Professor Emeritus of Germanic Studies at Indiana University, is the author of several books, including Early Epic Scenery: Homer, Virgil, and the Medieval Legacy; The Legend of Brynhild (both from Cornell); and A Preface to the "Nibelungenlied." Kari Ellen Gade, Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University, is the author of The Structure of Old Norse "Drttkvt" Poetry (Volume XLIX in Islandica).

"This volume by Andersson and Gade will be mandatory reading for scholars of kings' sagas, skaldic verse, and Icelandic literature more generally; for those without a professional interest in the sagas, the text on its own is an exciting narrative which should not be missed.... The present volume enables these tales to delight a far larger audience than has hitherto been possible, and the translators are to be congratulated for producing it."

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies - Margaret Cormack, College of Charleston

"Among... recent publications, pride of place must be accorded to the work under consideration here.... Their work deserves highest praise, because it is both useful to specialists and can be appreciated by the general public interested in Scandinavian history.... The prose is smooth, matching well the style of the original, but the poetry deserves special mention.... The work is a magisterial addition to Cornell's preeminent series, Islandica."

Scandinavian Studies - Jenny Jochens

"Its translators have provided the reader with a lucid and comfortable text that can be read by almost anyone.... Its 555 pages will surely be quickly recognized by students of Icelandic literature as a godsend.... This book is worth looking at and will add a regal majesty to your quest for the Old Norse past as well as to your bookshelves."

Norway Times - Thomas Martin

"Anderson and Gade's work provides an accurate translation, a thorough and thought-provoking introduction, and the medieval Icelandic text of the embedded verses both in their original form and in prose paraphrases. The resulting volume makes Morkinskinna and the considerable erudition brought to bear on it available to the widest possible scholarly audience."

Scandanavica 42:1 - Russell Poole, University of Western Ontario

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