A Very Animated Conversation on Icelandic Matters: The Saga Translations of William Morris and Eiríkr Magnússon

Authored by: Paul Acker

The Routledge Companion to William Morris

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780415347433
eBook ISBN: 9781315229416
Adobe ISBN:


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William Morris, in common with all the Pre-Raphaelites, prized medieval art and literature: the frescoes of Giotto as well as anonymous miniatures in manuscripts; the literary works of Chaucer, Dante and Malory. More unusually for a Pre-Raphaelite, Morris read medieval Icelandic sagas in the available translations, as did many another Victorian enthusiast, as Andrew Wawn has shown in The Vikings and the Victorians (2002). After all, Vikings were in their blood, at least for those in places the Scandinavians had settled, from Shetland and Orkney on down through Scotland and northern England. Norse had even penetrated the English language, in words as basic as they, them, sister, husband, sky, egg and take. But Morris would become one of the few Victorians who went so far as to learn the Icelandic language, travel to Iceland, and translate the sagas, with help from an Icelander who had moved to England, Eiríkr Magnússon.

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