Egils saga Skallagrímssonar, edited by Michael Chesnutt.
Bind III. C-Redaktionen.
Editiones Arnamagnæanæ, Series A, vol. 21.
2007 (title-page date 2006). lxviii + 204 pp. 1 colour and 2 b/w plates.
The saga of the warrior and skald Egill Skallagrímsson is one of the most famous of all medieval Icelandic prose narratives. It survives in three distinct redactions. The chief witness to the A-redaction is Möðruvallabók (M), a vellum manuscript from the middle of the fourteenth century now in the Arnamagnæan Institute in Reykjavík. The chief witnesses to the B- and C-redactions respectively are a vellum manuscript (also from the fourteenth century) now in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, and two paper copies (K1 and K2) made by Árni Magnússon’s maternal grandfather, the Rev. Ketill Jörundsson, probably not later than the year 1638.
While A has the relatively fullest prose text of the saga and preserves most of Egill's lausavísur, it lacks the long poems Höfuðlausn and Sonatorrek. These are both incorporated in the late medieval C-redaction, now issued as vol. III of the critical edition projected fifty years ago by Professor Jón Helgason (1899-1986). Jón Helgason envisaged the publication in full of all 10 vellum fragments of Egils saga, and accordingly the three leaves of the fifteenth-century fragment AM (Reykjavík) 162 A epsilon fol. are here printed on right-hand pages facing the main text. That text is constructed from the sixteenth-century fragment AM (Reykjavík) 162 A alpha fol., AM (Reykjavík) 462 4to = K1 as far as it extends, and AM (Copenhagen) 453 4to = K2. The critical apparatus records substantive variants from National and University Library of Iceland (Reykjavík) Lbs. 825 4to, a copy of the C-redaction written by the Rev. Jón Ólafsson yngri (d. 1703) affecting a pseudo-archaic script and pseudo-archaic orthography. An appendix presents the Höfuðlausnarskýringar of Björn Jónsson á Skarðsá, which were compiled in 1633-1634 and are partly based on a C-text of the poem. The introduction to the volume is in Danish with a full English summary.
It remains to edit the B-redaction of Egils saga on the basis of Jón Helgason’s preparatory materials, which will make it possible for the first time to reconstruct a form of the saga at least half a century older than the A-redaction as transmitted in M – the latter until now the only version available to the reading public in printed editions and translations.
About the editor
Michael Chesnutt was born in Scotland in 1942 and graduated in medieval English and Old Norse language and literature from Magdalen College, Oxford. After some years of postgraduate study and teaching at universities in Ireland and Scandinavia he was appointed to a lectureship at the University of Copenhagen. Here he has spent the greater part of his career, briefly (1982-1985) as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and latterly (1999-2007) as a member of the research staff of the Arnamagnæan Institute. Michael Chesnutt has at various times been a visiting scholar at the University of Liverpool and the University of Glasgow (UK), the University of California-Berkeley (USA), and the University of Iceland. He is a corresponding member of the Faroese Academy and an associate of the Folklore Fellows.
Michael Chesnutt’s scholarly output comprises more than 100 numbers. His philological work relating to medieval Scandinavian texts includes an edition of the Danish liturgy of St Knud Lavard (in Bibliotheca Arnamagnæana XLII, 2003), and he has also published extensively in folklore, early English, and early Scottish literature. In 1996 he edited the index volume of the corpus of Faroese ballads (Føroya kvæði VII; in collaboration with Kaj Larsen). In 2001 he completed the first volume of the new Arnamagnæan edition of Egils saga Skallagrímssonar after the death of the Icelandic philologist Bjarni Einarsson.