Ljósvetninga saga (listen (help·info)) is one of the sagas of Icelanders, commonly dated to the thirteenth century and takes place between the end of the tenth century to the mid-eleventh century in the North of Iceland. The saga's main character is Guðmundr inn ríki Eyjólfsson, a powerful chieftain from North-Iceland's Eyjafjörður district. In the early-twentieth century it was an important part of the freeprose-bookprose debate of the oral vs. literary origins of the sagas of Icelanders, due to its problematic manuscript transmission.
Authorship and DatingEdit
The author of the saga is unknown as the work is anonymous. Nevertheless, Icelandic politician and scholar Barði Guðmundsson argued that its author is Þórðr Þorvarðsson, an historically obscure son-in-law of thirteenth-century magnate and author Sturla Þórðarson. The saga's Íslenzk fornit editor has dated both version of the saga to mid-thirteenth century due mostly to its literary connections with Njáls saga and historical evidence, while its translators into English, Theodore Andersson and William Ian Miller, have suggested the earlier date of ca. 1220, based mostly on an oddly-placed reference to a historical character, and other literary connections.
Manuscripts and RedactionsEdit
There are currently only two extant medieval manuscripts of Ljósvetninga saga, and both are fragmentary. A ca. 1400 manuscript belonging to the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, with the shelf-mark AM 561 4to, and another belonging to the same institute with shelf-mark AM 162 c fol. Of AM 561 4to there is only one nineteenth century paper copy made by the Icelandic scholar Guðbrandur Vigfússon, and all other paper copies are of AM 162 c fol.
The differences between the two manuscripts are dramatic from a narrative point of view; the version in AM 561 4to, often referred to as the A-redaction, features a shorter narrative that omits stories that are to be found in the C-redaction extant in AM 162 c fol. and its paper copies. These differences were a cause for much debate about the saga's origins and over the redactions' primacy, with arguments regarding a literary vs. oral connection between the two.
- Barði Guðmundsson. (1953). Ljósvetninga Saga og Saurbæingar. Reykjavík: Menningarsjóður.
- Björn Sigfússon, ed. (1940). Ljósvetninga saga. Reykjavík: Hið íslenska fornritafélag. pp. XLVII–L.
- Law and Literature in Medieval Iceland: Ljósvetninga Saga and Valla-Ljóts Saga. Translated by Andersson, Theodore M.; Miller, William Ian. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1989.