Full text: Iceland 1930

Icelandic Literature is in some respects unique in the world literature. 
It is almost as old as the nation that created it and covers a longer 
period than any other liferature in any modern European language. 
It is recorded in a tongue which has changed so little from that spo- 
ken by the settlers a millennium ago, that any child can understand the 
oldest Icelandic writings almost as easily ay if they had been written 
yesterday. It forms a connected whole where one thing arises out of 
another as naturally as boughs, branches, and leaves spring from a 
tree; and though in form more strict than other literatures, it has al- 
ways been the property of the common people, who have made no 
small contribution to it. It is strictly national, but at the same time it 
is a ‘look-out hill® where all Teutonic nations must make a halt to 
understand their own origin and character. — This literature, though 
created by Europe’s most isolated and most northerly nation, Europe’s 
smallest and sparsest nation, has nevertheless its significant voice in 
‘he great world choir of letters. 
Only a very brief sketch of the whole field has been attempted in 
the following pages. 
The earliest kind of Icelandic literature is poetry. It had already 
made some progress in Norway by the time the settlers emigrated 
to Iceland; but in Iceland it soon reached a high and peculiar stage 
of development, and has never died out during subsequent centuries. 
Old-Icelandic poetry falls under two heads: the Eddic lays and the 
Court poetry. The bulk of the Eddic lays are of uncertain age, but 
it is generally supposed that most of what has been preserved, dates 
from between 850 and 1050, and more particularly from the latter

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