The following is Frithjof, the Viking of Norway (1899) by Zénaïde Alexeïevna Ragozin (1834-1924).
- Boy and Girl
- King Bele and Thorsten, Viking’s Son
- Frithjof’s Three Heirlooms
- Frithjof’s Wooing
- King Ring
- Frithjof Plays Chess
- In Balder’s Grove
- On the High Seas
- In Earl Angantyr’s Hall
- Frithjof’s Return
- Balder’s Funeral Pyre
- Frithjof the Viking
- An Unbidden Guest
- On the Ice
- The Temptation
- King Ring’s Death
- The Election
- The Vision
Note on the Frithjof Saga
Perhaps one of the many charms of this beautiful story is that it is a story all by itself, unconnected with the mythical cycle of the Edda, with very little supernatural agency, and that only in externalities (the magic ship, the storm giants); an entirely human, vivid picture of Norse life just before it was perturbed and changed by the advent of Christianity — probably in the eighth century. Antiquarians are pretty well agreed that the Saga was written down, from old popular ballads, about 1300, and have little doubt that the groundwork is historical. Thorsten and Bele’s mounds are still shown near the city of Bergen; so is the rocky headland on which the once famous temple of Balder stood; the country around Christiania is still called Hringarika, “the realm of Ring.”
The Saga in its old Norse version is so complete, even to the smallest incidents, that when Esaias Tegner, Sweden’s national poet, took it in hand, he had nothing either to add or to omit, nothing to invent, but only to soften one or two crudenesses and clothe the whole with the charm of his poetic conception, of his wonderful imagery and diction.
Folklore and popular epic poetry were not held in honor by the literary world of the beginning of this century: it was too much enthralled by the pseudo-classicism of the French culture of the last two centuries, and too much fascinated with the coldly rationalistic philosophy of which Voltaire and the Encyclopedists were the exponents. It is well known that their disciple King Frederic the Great of Prussia complained to one of his Paris correspondents that some fool of a bookworm had sent him some absurd old stories — trash which he would like to throw out of the window. The “trash” was the first modern German version of the Nibelungenlied. Patriotism had a good deal to do with the revival of folklore in the different Teutonic countries, and when men like the brothers Grimm and Karl Simrock in Germany collected nursery tales from the lips of peasant grandames or transcribed into modern German prose and verse the old national songs, heroic legends, and epics, they avowedly followed up the national revolt against French political rule, by raising the country’s intellectual self-consciousness and inciting it to revolt against the tyranny of French spiritual domination and literary fashion.
The same movement was taken up and fostered by Adam Oehlenschlaeger and Esaias Tegner, the national poets of Denmark and Sweden, where both the partisanship and opposition were quite as vehement as in Germany, because if, in these remoter countries, the political yoke was not as directly oppressive, the spiritual thraldom was hardly less complete. At the present day, it seems so natural that writers should take the subject matter of their novels, dramas, poems, if not from contemporary life, then out of the national treasury of legend and history, that we can scarcely realize what a startling innovation were the first attempts in this direction. Fortunately, the innovators were the masterminds of the time, which had the power to force a hearing and, once heard, to fascinate and to convince.
This gift of fascination Tegner possessed in the highest degree, and, while he himself doubted his success, being naturally modest and diffident, and, in his letters to friends, expressed a fear lest he might have injured the cause of his beloved folk legends by unskilful treatment of the particular Saga he had selected — the poem took the country by storm and, in its further triumphant march, included not only the entire Northern world, but even the literary circles of remote nationalities. This is shown by the number of metrical translations of it in existence: twenty-one German and nearly as many English, several Danish, French, Dutch, Polish, Latin, and one Italian, one Russian, one Hungarian, one Greek, and one Icelandic.
As to the poet’s own native Sweden, it is said that there is hardly a peasant’s cabin where a copy of the Frithjof Saga is not treasured by the side of the Bible and the Hymnal, the three mostly forming the entire family library. This is popularity indeed!
Source of the text, etc.
The scanned book is available on Archive.org. I at latinfromscratch.com have proofread, edited, etc., the OCR version. Minor changes have been made, but, in general, every spelling, word, sentence, paragraph, etc., is as in the original (however, most changes are about having more paragraphs for a more effortless reading experience, and occasionally some old-fashioned spellings such as to-morrow → tomorrow).
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