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Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories
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Questions > Unknown, Anonymous, and Icelandic sagas

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Märt | 6 comments I see that the issue of "Unknown" vs "Anonymous" authorship is one that arises time and again, so I thought I'd ask to make sure before taking any action.

I wanted to combine Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories and Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories, as both are editions of the same book of Icelandic sagas translated by Hermann Pálsson. However, the books currently have different authors listed. One lists only a translator and no author; the other lists "Anonymous" as the author.

The 'about the author' page states that "Nothing is known of the authorship of Hrafnkel’s Saga." The introduction, meanwhile, has this to say:

The matter-of-fact style of these stories has led some scholars into the mistaken belief that they are essentially traditional tales which originated mysteriously and miraculously soon after the alleged event (often in the tenth century or slightly later), to be then handed down orally from generation to generation until the scribes in the thirteenth century came along and copied them faithfully down on vellum. But modern scholarship has rejected this simplistic approach to the problem of saga genesis, and it has now been shown that these stories (and others of a similar type) were written in a thirteenth century idiom and by individual authors who were more concerned with moral and aesthetic truths than with historical facts, and who relied more on their own experiences and knowledge of human nature than on the vagaries of popular tradition.

(emphasis added)
The stories in this volume are anonymous, but it has been suggested that Hrafnkel’s Saga was probably written by Abbot Brand Jónson (d. 1264), one of the leading intellectuals in thirteenth century Iceland.
. . .
The identity of the author of Hrafnkel’s Saga will probably never be established beyond all reasonable doubt, but whatever his name was, the story shows us clearly that he must have been a man of exceptional sensitivity and understanding – one of the humanists and humanizers of thirteenth century Iceland.

(emphasis added)

As the introduction emphatically rejects the proposition that these "are traditional stories not attributed to a specific author" (quoting from Anonymous author profile), would I be correct in changing both of these books to be by Unknown?


message 2: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44598 comments Mod
That seems reasonable to me. I strongly advise Librarian's Notes on any editions you so change.


Märt | 6 comments Ok, will do. Thanks for the reply.


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