Nítíða saga: A Normalised Icelandic Text and Translation

Nítíða saga: A Normalised Icelandic Text and Translation

By Sheryl McDonald

Leeds Studies in English, n.s., 40 (2009)

Introduction: Nítíða saga is one of the many sagas known as native or indigenous riddarasögur (‘knights’ sagas’), and which have sometimes been called lygisögur (‘lie-sagas’) for their inclusion of non-realistic, that is, obviously fictional, plots and motifs. Though interest in these types of sagas has grown in recent years, indigenous riddarasögur have not always enjoyed acceptance among scholars, despite their immense popularity in Iceland from the late Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, and there are still too few translations of Icelandic romances and especially indigenous riddarasögur. Extensive manuscript survivals testify to the popularity of many of the indigenous riddarasögur, and Nítíða saga is no exception, extant in at least sixty-five manuscripts, almost all of which are post-medieval, and the youngest of which was composed in the early twentieth century. Driscoll dates this saga to the fourteenth century; it was clearly enjoyed for hundreds of years after its original composition. Further study of Nítíða saga, which I aim to encourage with this normalised text and translation, will contribute not only to Old Norse-Icelandic studies, but also to the growing field of medieval popular romance studies in general. It is for this reason that I have chosen to present both a normalised text of the saga and a full translation—to facilitate its study by the non-specialist, or student, who knows little or no Icelandic.

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