Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFATORY NOTE. - The Story of Burnt Njal
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PREFATORY NOTE. - Burnt Njal, The Story of Burnt Njal 
The Story of Burnt Njal. The Great Icelandic Tribune, Jurist, and Counsellor, translated from the Njals Saga by the Late Sir George Webbe Dasent. With Editor’s Prefatory Note and Author’s Introduction. Hon. Rasmus B. Anderson, Editor in Chief (London: Norroena Society, 1907).
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Thisprint ofSir George Dasent'stranslation of the Njals Saga, under the title The Story of Burnt Njal, has been prepared in order that this incomparable Saga may become accessible to those readers with whom a good story is the first consideration, and its bearing upon a nation's history a secondary one—or is not considered at all. For Burnt Njal may be approached either as a historical document, or as a pure narrative of elemental natures, of strong passions, and of heroic feats of strength. Some of the best fighting in literature is to be found between its covers. Sir George Dasent's version in its capacity as a learned work for the study has had nearly forty years of life; it is now offered afresh simply as a brave story for men who have been boys and for boys who are going to be men.
We lay down the book at the end having added to our store of good memories the record of great deeds and great hearts, and to our gallery of heroes strong and admirable men worthy to stand beside the strong and admirable men of the Iliad—Gunnar of Lithend and Skarphedinn, Njal and Kari, Helgi and Kolskegg, beside Telamonian Aias and Patroclus, Achilles and Hector, Ulysses and Idomeneus. In two respects these Icelanders win more of our sympathy than the Greeks and Trojans; for they, like ourselves, are of Northern blood, and in their mighty strivings are unassisted by the gods.
In the present volume Sir George Dasent's preface hasbeen shortened, and his introduction, which everyone should make a point of reading has been considerably abridged.
Sir George Wcbbe Dasent, D.C.L., the translator of the Njals Saga, was born in 1817 at St. Vincent in the West Indies, of which island his father was Attorney-General. He was educated at Westminster School, and at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he was distinguished both as a fine athlete and a good classic. He took his degree in 1840, and on settling in London showed an early tendency towards literature and literary society. The Sterlings were connected with the island of St. Vincent, and as Dasent and John Sterling became close friends, he was a constant guest at Captain Sterling's house in Knightsbridge, which was frequented by many who afterwards rose to eminence in the world of letters, including Carlyle, to whom Dasent dedicated his first book. Dasent's appointment in 1842 as private secretary to Sir James Cartwright, the British Envoy to the court of Sweden, took him to Stockholm, where under the advice of Jacob Grimm, whom he had met in Denmark, he began that study of Scandinazvian literature which has enriched English literature by the present work, and by the Norse Tales, Gisli the Outlaw, and other valuable translations and memoirs. On returning to London again in 1845 he joined the Times staff as assistant editor to the great Delane, who had been his friend at Oxford, and whose sister he married in the following year. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone offered him a Civil Service Commissionership, which he accepted and held until his retirement in 1892. He was knighted “for public services” in 1876, having been created a knight of the Danish order of the Danne-brog many years earlier.
He died greatly respected in 1896.