From runic inscriptions to sagas, this book introduces readers to the colourful world of Old Norse-Icelandic literature. It covers not only mythology and family sagas, but also looks at less well-known areas, such as oral story-telling, Eddaic verse and skaldic verse. An introduction describing the language and culture of the first settlers in Iceland helps readers to appreciate the background against which this literature was produced. The book acts as an introduction not only to Old-Norse Icelandic literature, but also to its reception through the ages and its influence on literature written in English. The author shows how a whole range of authors from Chaucer to Seamus Heaney have been influenced by this body of work, pointing out that even King Lear and Hamlet appear in Old Norse texts.
Heather O'Donoghue is Reader in Old Norse at Oxford University. She is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.