Landnámutextar í Ólafs Sögu Tryggvasonar

  • Ólafur Halldórsson
Keywords: Sturlubók Manuscript, Saga composers, Text compilations


The Great Saga of Óláfr Tiyggvason (ÓlTr) is a compilation of texts from various sources, selected and arranged with minor changes and some additions by a skilled editor, most likely working during the second quarter of the fourteenth century. Composing the saga he collected his material from a number of different written texts, amongst them a manuscript of Landnámabók. From this manuscript he borrowed narratives about the discovery of Iceland and its first settler, along with such material as he thought he could use concerning Christian settlers in the country. The primary version of ÓlTr is found in the manuscripts AM 61 fol (A), AM 53 fol (B), and AM 54 fol (C'), but a younger version, partly shortened, partly expanded and changed significantly in terms of diction and narrative sequence, is preserved in AM 62 fol (D') and Flateyjarbók, GKS 1005 fol (D: ). When these two versions of the saga come under discussion they are cited as the A- and D-versions, respective. A close comparison of material from Landnámabók in ÓlTr and corresponding texts in both the Sturlubók version of Landnámabók and in Hauksbók reveals that the composer derived these chapters from a Sturlubók manuscript which had a better text and was also closer to the prototype than the Resensbók version. The saga composer did not copy the text word for word from the Sturlubók manuscript. He sometimes chose to express things according to his own taste, every now and then adding words, but otherwise editing out parts of the text which, to his mind, did not serve his purpose. In the D-version the text as found in the A-version is shortened and changed in the similar way as elsewhere in this version of the saga and fully consistent with the aim and methods of its editor. A number of scholars have considered the text of Landnámabók in ÓlTr to be derived from the version of Óláfs saga Tryggvasonar written by the monk Gunnlaugr Leifsson. Actually it is not unlikely that Gunnlaugr included in his saga of Óláfr Tryggvason a chapter concerning the discovery of Iceland, its first settler and later Christian settlers, but since Gunnlaugr's Óláfs saga is lost there is little hope that its contents can be fully determined, and it is completely out of the question to try to attribute to it with any certainty any influence other than in those places where it is specifically cited in younger sources, including The Great Saga of Óláfr Tryggvason. The only thing that can be said about the origin of the Landnámabók text in OlTr is that it is derived from a manuscript containing a text identical with the one found in Sturlubók, and is therefore presumably taken from a manuscript of Sturlubók itself, but not copied from Sturlubók's source, whatever fhat might have been. There is no ofher source of this text, and fhere is nothing to support the idea fhat one ever existed. The treatment of this text in ÓlTr does not diverge from the compositional techniques the saga composer applied to texts from other sources which he included in his work, and there is no reason to attribute to monk Gunnlaugr any share in the deviations in ÓlTr from the text in Sturlubók.