The Story of Burnt Njal
What is a Saga? A Saga is a story, or telling in prose, sometimes mixed with verse. There are many kinds of Sagas with varying degrees of truth. ... Show synopsis What is a Saga? A Saga is a story, or telling in prose, sometimes mixed with verse. There are many kinds of Sagas with varying degrees of truth. There are the mythical Sagas, the historical Sagas of the kings of Norway, and then there are Sagas relating to Iceland narrating the lives, the feuds and the ends of mighty chiefs who dwelt in the districts of the island. These were told by men who lived on the very spot, and told with an exactness as to time and place. The Saga of Njal is one of these. Of all the Sagas relating to Iceland, this tragic story bears away the palm for truthfulness and beauty. To use the words of one well qualified to judge, it is, when compared with all similar compositions, as gold to brass. In this Saga we learn of the sad story of Njal's fate, Gunnar's peerlessness and Hallgerda's infamy, of Bergthora's helpfulness, of Skarphedinn's hastiness, of Flosi's foul deed, and Kari's stern revenge. To tell a story truthfully was what was looked for from all men in those days; but to tell it properly and gracefully, and to clothe the facts in fitting diction, was given to few, and of those few the Saga teller who first threw Njal into its present shape, was one of the first and foremost. As for truthfulness, there are many other Sagas relating to the same period in which the actors in our Saga are mentioned by name and in which their deeds are corroborated. But, of all the Sagas, none were so interesting as Njal, whether as regarding the length of the story, the number of ranking chiefs who appeared in it as actors and the graphic way in which the tragic tale is told.