april 2021

28apr6:00 pm8:00 pmLong Ago and Far Away: The NorseOngoing virtual study6:00 pm - 8:00 pm VIRTUALType Of Study:Literature,PhilosophyFrequency:WeeklyDuration:Ongoing


Event Details

Long Ago and Far Away is an ongoing, weekly virtual Salon group that began in January 2020 as an eight-week study of the Myths and Legends of Troy. Since then, the group have continued together and met weekly through a year of lockdown, going on to read:

  • over twenty Classical Greek dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides
  • some of the oldest extant Greek myths in Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, and the Homeric Hymns
  • Ovid’s Roman retelling of myths from Greece in the Metamorphoses
  • foundation myths of Mesopotamia and the Epic of Gilgamesh
  • most recently, the biblical Book of Genesis

Now well into their second year, the dedicated and energetic readers in the Long Ago group will next turn north for an extended study of stories from the Norse tradition. First up: beginning 28 April, 2021 is a first sequence on the Sagas of Icelanders.

Long Ago and Far Away meets in six-week segments, with a flexible reading plan that follows the interest of the group. Following the first six-week round of Icelandic Sagas, the group will likely continue with more of the sagas, and then delve further into Norse myth and legend in the Prose and Poetic Eddas, the Song of the Nibelung, and the Saga of the Volsungs.

If you are interested in joining the Long Ago and Far Away group on continuing basis, please email facilitator Mark Cwik for more information.


  • Facilitated by Mark Cwik
  • Ongoing weekly study, email facilitator Mark Cwik for details if you are interested in joining.
  • Wednesday 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
  • New topic starting 28 April, 2021: Literature of the Norse
  • Online discussions using Zoom meeting interface. Zoom is free for participants, instructions will be sent upon registration.
  • Book edition:
    • The Sagas of Icelanders, introduction by Robert Kellogg, with preface by Jane Smiley
      (Penguin Classics, 2001)
      ISBN-13: 978-0141000039

About the Icelandic Sagas:

As grandly epic as Homer, rich in tragedy as Sophocles, compellingly human as Shakespeare, and psychologically keen as Chekhov—the sagas of Icelanders are the crowning achievement of medieval Scandinavian narrative and rank among the world’s greatest literary treasures. They describe a world of a millennium ago that nevertheless rings familiar with perennial human struggles.

The forty-plus narratives of adventure and conflict that comprise the sagas are set in Iceland’s 9th- and 10th-century Age of Settlement, when a handful of families fled the oppressive kingship of Norway to set up new lives on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. It was in Iceland the era of a unique commonwealth of free chieftains with no king, clerical hierarchy, or armies, ruled by Viking traditions of honour and blood vengeance. Written down anonymously several hundred years later, the sagas look back on a pioneer generation struggling to forge and maintain a self-governing community in a harsh environment at the edge of the known world.

With economy of style and astute insight into character, the sagas portray poets, warriors, statesmen, farmers, and outlaws—strong and determined men and women who strive for power, wealth, fame, respect, and love in a frontier society that wavers between the rule of law and vengeance.
In this study we will first look closely at two of the short sagas, to become familiar with the unique literary style and the cultural background of these great tales. We’ll then lauch into the grand, multi-generational Laxdaela Saga, followed by one of the gems of the saga tradition: the story of the wily, Odyssean poet-warrior hero of Egil’s Saga.