Njal's Saga

Manuscripts and editions

Njáls saga survives in around 60 manuscripts and fragments, 21 of which – an unusually large number – are from the Middle Ages.[3] The fuller vellum manuscripts are:

  • Reykjabók (AM 468 4to), c. 1300–1325
  • Gráskinna (GKS 2870), c. 1300 and with additions from c. 1500–1550
  • Möðruvallabók (AM 132 fol.), c. 1330–1370
  • Kálfalækjarbók (AM 133 fol.), c. 1350
  • Skafinskinna (GKS 2868 4to), c. 1350–1400
  • Oddabók (AM 466 4to), c. 1460

The vellum fragments include:

  • AM 162 b fol. β (beta), c. 1300
  • AM 162 b fol. δ (delta), c. 1300
  • AM 162 b fol. ζ (zeta), c. 1325
  • AM 162 b fol. κ (kappa), c. 1350
  • AM 162 b fol. γ (gamma), c. 1325
  • AM 162 b fol. θ (theta), c. 1325
  • AM 162 b fol. η (eta), c. 1350

None of the vellum manuscripts survives complete, but they tended to be copied conservatively, indicating the reverence which Icelandic scribes have had for the saga and making it relatively easy to reconstruct a complete medieval text. The vellum manuscripts were classified most recently by Einar Ólafur Sveinsson in 1953, en route to his 1954 Íslenzk fornrit edition of the saga, which remains the standard edition.[4] However, a project 'The Variance of Njáls saga ', based in the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, is reassessing the complete history of the manuscript transmission of the saga.[5]

The first printed edition of the saga, by Ólafur Ólafsson, based primarily on Reykjabók, with reference to Kálfalækjabók and Möðruvallabók, was published in Copenhagen in 1772.[6] A major step in the editing of the saga was the 1875–89 critical edition of Konráð Gíslason and Eiríkur Jónsson.[7] The current main edition is that of Einar Ólafur Sveinsson from 1954.[8]

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