The Sagas of Olden Days—references to the fornaldarsögur in English vacillate between Sagas of Antiquity and Sagas of Ancient Times; I suggest we coin a more Germanic name, Sagas of Olden Days—have not received much attention by scholars within the field of Old Norse-Icelandic. According to the romanticist scholar N.M. Petersen, who valued saga texts according to their historical credibility, the sagas of olden days were “without historical characters, imbued with confused memories of ancient times patched up with absurd fairy-tales” (in his “Bidrag til den oldnordiske Litteraturs Historie,” published posthumously [1861], p. 277). That the Sagas of Olden Days were considered late arrivals made them even less attractive in the eyes of the historically minded critics.

When in the early twentieth century scholars’ focus shifted from historical validity to aesthetic accomplishment, the fornaldarsögur once again were left behind, eclipsed by the (from a literary point of view) more attractive...

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