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October 11, 2001 Icelandic sagas presented to Concordia



David R. zfranklin (right) with Director of Libraries William Curran

David R. Franklin (right), honorary consul for Iceland and a longtime lecturer in what is now the John Molson School of Business, with Director of Libraries William Curran.

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Barbara Black

A set of books entitled The Complete Sagas of the Icelanders was given to Concordia University Libraries on Sept. 12. The gift, one of several such gifts to various organizations, was from Iceland to the people of Canada on the occasion of the opening of an Icelandic Embassy to Canada last May.

A bookplate in each of the books says: “Donated to Concordia University by the Government and People of Iceland in cooperation with the Icelandic National League of North America, Icelandic Canadian Club of Quebec and the Embassy of Iceland in Ottawa to mark the 1,000 years since the Viking Icelanders first set foot in North America.”

Saga literature has been a national treasure in Iceland for centuries, although it remained unknown elsewhere until it began to be printed in the 17th century. Since then, the sagas have been acknowledged as one of world literature’s most remarkable achievements.

The original sagas were preserved in hundreds of manuscripts, first on vellum in the 13th century, and later on paper. They describe the events surrounding the discovery and settlement of Iceland and became an endless source of knowledge and wisdom, entertainment and brilliant language.

The sagas are a unique literary phenomenon, and invite comparison with the masterpieces of classical Greece and Rome.

Making the presentation were members of the Icelandic-Canadian Club of Quebec: Susan Stephenson, president; Malcolm Olafson, Treasurer (EMBA Concordia 1995); David Franklin, immediate past president and a long-time teacher in the Department of Management at Concordia.

Representing Concordia were: William Curran, Director of the Concordia Libraries; Mia Massicote, Assistant Director of Collection Services; Richard Diubaldo, Director of Recruitment and a historian specializing in Artic exploration; Allan Nash, professor of geography, who has a long-time interest in Iceland and has travelled there. Lorna Roth, Coordinator of Concordia’s Northern Studies Group, was unable to attend, and linguist Charles Reiss, who had planned to attend, was stuck in New York.

The presentation was followed by a reception in the library.