Yngvar's Saga
Vikings in Russia
Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards (Translators)
Edinburgh University Press, 1989

This tale of a disinherited prince who goes off to seek his fortune was probably written around the beginning of the 13th century. It is a translation into Icelandic of a lost Latin work called the "Vita Yngvari" (Life of Yngvar) by Odd Snorrason the Learned, a Benedictine monk who lived at the monastery in Thingeyrar in the second half of the 12th century. Odd also wrote a life of King Olaf Tryggvason. Yngvar's Saga is presented as a tale of Christian missionaries heading into Russia, but in the reading it's pretty clear from other contemporary sources that Odd was redressing tales that were still being told in a better light. Despite this, the Saga has a very "oral" feel to it and there are a number of good episodes in it (the hazard of the whirlpool, Gapi) which would make fine stand-alone stories. [AY]
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Yusuf and Zuleikha
Jami, David Pendlebury (Translator)
The Octagon Press, 1996
ISBN 0900860774

Jami was a 15th Century Persian Sufi poet. ›The tale of Yusuf and Zuleikha had been around in oral forms and was a popular story, but Jami worked the same treatment on it that Nizami had done centuries earlier with Layla wa Majnun.› The Middle-eastern version of the tale is much more sympathetic to Zuleikha than the Biblical version is to the unnamed wife of Potiphar; and Jami's version in particular transforms the story of a lustful, adulterous woman into a story of the soul's longing for union with God (and hopefully some of that came through when I told part of it at Boredom War).

And I definitely have to agree with my master that there is certainly a great deal of room for freshness in tellings of stories from the Bible. ›With stories as with quests, the enjoyment is in the journey rather than the end.› A strong telling can more than compensate for the fact that an ending is known. [TbIaI]

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