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The Völsunga Saga

The Völsunga Saga is a 13th century prose retelling of the heroic lays found in The Elder Edda. For the most part they follow closely the heroic poems, although there are additional or alternate details given, including most importantly the matter contained in "The Great Lacuna" missing from The Elder Edda, as well as a lengthy introductory sequence not found in the Eddas. The only existing manuscript dates to circa 1400, which also contains Ragnar Loðbrok's Saga which follows after Völsunga Saga without a break.

The standard translation of the Völsunga Saga to this day is that of Eirikr Magnusson and William Morris, published in 1888, and never surpassed, at least for popularity. This might be due in part to the fact that all subsequent editions simply pale in terms of poetry: the breadth and beauty of William Morris's work has long been hailed by critics and casual readers alike, and his and Magnusson's obvious love of the material shines through at every passage. Today the rendering leans toward archaic and borders on hard to understand, but once the rhythm of the language is grasped it flows freely with both grace and power.

The 1888 Morris-Magnusson edition also contains a lengthy appendix featuring their own translations of the relevant heroic lays from The Elder Edda. Into this I have also incorporated notes from R. G. Finch's 1965 edition, along with Finch's renderings of the poetic stanzas found in the manuscript, to produce what might be considered a definitive study edition.

For those who would like to read a more modern treatment, though by far less poetic, Finch's own edition is also provided below. It has nowhere near the force or charm of the earlier edition, but it is much easier to read.

For a complete outline of the Völsunga Saga story, visit the Outlines page, where you can download an 18-page PDF with a detailed breakdown of each chapter. In addition, a comprehensive genealogical chart tracing the Völsung bloodline as given in the Saga can be found on the Genealogies page.

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The Story of the Volsungs

William Morris & Eirikr Magnusson (1870) [Reworked Edition, Walter Scott Press, London, 1888]

The Saga of the Volsungs

R. G. Finch (1965)
[Thomas Nelson, London]

Modern English Translation Only
[4.52 MB]

Complete English-Icelandic Edition [54.5 MB]

The full version contains extensive introductory notes and appendices.

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