Guide to Literary Terms

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Saga

Saga - a lengthy narrative or legend about heroic or historical events. The term applies particularly to any Scandinavian story from the middle ages dealing with the adventures of a person of lofty rank, but also applies to any traditional legend, myth, or tale involving extraordinary, marvelous, or detailed experiences and achievements. Its emphasis on feuds and family histories led the term to additionally be used to describe a long family story spanning two or more generations.

The term is from the Icelandic saw, meaning “saying,” and the Old Norse saga, meaning “story.”

The Forsythe Saga by John Galsworthy is an example of a contemporary saga; Erik the Red and Hrafnkel’s Saga are two examples of traditional Icelandic sagas.