William Morris and the Icelandic Sagas

William Morris and the Icelandic Sagas

Ian Felce





An examination of how greatly the sagas and other literature of Iceland shaped the poems of William Morris.
The work of William Morris (1834-1896) was hugely influenced by the medieval sagas and poetry of Iceland; in particular, they inspired his long poems "The Lovers of Gudrun" and Sigurd the Volsung. Between 1868 and 1876, Morris not only translated several major sagas into English for the first time with his collaborator the Icelander Eiríkur Magnússon (1833-1913) but he also travelled on horseback twice across the Icelandic interior, journeys which led him through the best known of the saga sites.
By looking closely at his translations of the sagas and the texts on which he based them, the journals of his travels in Iceland, and his saga-inspired long poems and lyric poetry, this book shows how Morris conceived a unique ideal of heroism through engaging with Icelandic literature. It shows the sagas and poetry of Iceland as crucial in shaping his view of the best life a man could live and spurring him on in the subsequent passions on which much of his legacy rests.

Ian Felce gained his PhD from Cambridge University.

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May 2018
214 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
ISBN: 9781843845010
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT011000, LIT004260
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Table of Contents

'The Lovers of Gudrun' and the Crisis of the Grail Quest
The Sagas of Icelanders and the Transmutation of Shame
Grettir the Strong and the Courage of Incapacity
Heimskringla, Literalness and the Power of Craft
Sigurd the Volsung and the Fulfilment of the Deedful Measure
The Unnameable Glory and the Fictional World

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