Verhalen Uit De Vikingtijd * Marcel Otten (2006 ambo * isbn 9026319096)

Stories From The Time Of The Vikings is the Dutch counterpart of The Sagas Of The Icelanders that you can find reviewed elsewhere. Marcel Otten has earlier translated other sagas (all reviewed) and the poetic Edda. This time he compiled mostly Icelandic sagas, translated them into Dutch and of course wrote an introduction and added extra information and maps. Unfortunately there are four texts in this book that are also among the English translations (marked with an * furtheron). I must say, I did like the English translations, but got a bit bored after reading too much of these longs sagas, but I enjoyed the Dutch translations a lot better. Maybe it is the free style of Otten that works a lot better with these sagas than with the Edda, is it the language or just my mood? Anyway, in this book you will find the following sagas: Í–rvar-Odds Saga (the saga of Od with the arrows), Króka-Refs Saga (the saga of Fox the Sly)*, EirÍ­ks saga rauða (the saga of Eirik the Red)*, Gunnlaugssaga ormstungu (the saga of Gunnlaug Serpenttongue)*, Ížorsteins Ížáttr bæjarmagns (the story of Thorstein Househigh (“staff-struck” in the other book))*, Bósa saga og Herrauðs (the saga of Bosi and Herraud), Egils saga einhenda ok ́smundar berserkjabana (the sage of Egil Onehand and Asmund the Berserkrkiller), Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks (the saga of Hervör and Heidrek). Very funny is that many storylines seem somehow familiar and towards the ends I found out why. The first saga is that of “Od with the arrows” and in one of Od’s adventures he goes out to kill twelve Berserkr brothers. At the end of the book there is the saga of Hervör and Heidrik which is partly about twelve Berserkr brothers who suddenly run into some “Od with the arrows”!! Such things give a nice idea of how these stories were transmitted and how many stories there must have been. The style of the stories is very funny too, especially the very explicit sex-scenes in Bosi’s story. The texts are full of jokes and amusing events, but also give a good idea of Viking life and ethics. Strangely enough (or not) almost all characters are very much against the prechristian faith and devout Christians. Certainly a sign of the time they were written down in. All in all a very enjoyable collection of old stories in a very nice translation.

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