ThePre-ColumbianDiscoveryofAmericabytheNorthmen

The Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen [電子書籍版]
B. F. de Costa

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So long ago as the year 1838, a distinguished writer in the North American Review, in closing a valuable and appreciative article on the Sagas relating to America, said: "We trust that some zealous student of these subjects will be immediately found, who will put the Icelandic authorities into an English dress, and prepare them, with proper literary apparatus, for the perusal of the general reader." Nevertheless, no one in this country has really undertaken the task until now; for the dialogues of Joshua Toulmin Smith, however valuable they may have proved at the date of their publication, can by no means be regarded as constituting the strict historical work contemplated. The English treatise by Beamish was conceived in the right spirit; but, while encumbered with much irrelevant matter, it did not complete the subject, and, together with Smith's work, long since went out of print. Several of the brief Narratives are also given by Laing, buried in the appendix of his valuable translation of the Heimskringla; but the labors of these authors are not now available, and, if combined, would not meet the present want. The author has therefore improved a favorable occasion to present what may, perhaps, be regarded as an exposition of the whole question. In doing so he has freely made use of such material from the above mentioned writers as he considered valuable for the purpose. The brief translations of Laing, being well done, have been given entire, with the exception that particular expressions have been improved upon; but such portions of the unsatisfactory and not altogether ingenuous work of Smith as have been used have been somewhat thoroughly recast. A better use could have been made of Beamish's work, if the author had succeeded in obtaining a copy before he was on the point of closing up his work. No critical knowledge of the Icelandic tongue is claimed by the author, yet he hopes that the text of the Sagas has not here been misinterpreted, or left obscure, especially as the Sagas relating to the Pre-Columbian voyages are given in Professors Rafn's work on the antiquities of America, accompanied by versions in Latin and Danish. In everything relating to the latter tongue, the author has had the invaluable assistance and advice of one who has spoken it from childhood. The grammatical structure of the Icelandic is simple, and the aim has been throughout to maintain this simplicity in the translations, so far as the genius of our own tongue would permit. This work being strictly historical, both in spirit and design, the poetical extracts which occur here and there are translated as literally as possible, without any attempt to garnish them with metre and rhyme. Nevertheless versions in rhyme, by other hands, are sometimes given in the notes

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