Finding a Story – a Glimpse at the Journey of one Tale by Eric Foxman
Updated: Jun 6, 2021
I opened the Iceland tour book and turned to the page I was to read; my friend was so sure I’d get a kick out of the description public attraction. It was unusual but not really so interesting. Before handing the book back, I flipped through and randomly glanced at a few pages. My eyes fell on a short two-paragraph sidebar describing what appeared to be a natural landmark and a local legend attributed to it. Now, this was interesting.
Making note of the significant words in the sidebar, I started my research, discovering along the way that the legend is part of 1200-1300 year old saga, one of more than a dozen from Iceland’s past. All of these were oral traditions for hundreds of years before being finally set to vellum, so it is unclear how much of the legend is based on fact, and how much evolved and changed before it was finally written down.
I was able to locate a translation of the saga. I searched through the 75 “chapters” chronicling a complex series of interweaving tales in order to pick out the legend that had caught my attention. Scattered throughout the text were a comment here and a mention there which, taken together, began to sketch pictures of the main characters. Two of the 75 “chapters” reveal most of the legend’s plot and development, though hints exist in other portions of the saga.
More research followed about the geography and geology of Iceland, as well as scratching the surface of what was happening in Iceland and Norway at that time in history. Pulling all of that together created a foundation upon which I felt I could finally begin to craft a tale that would bring together two of my interests in storytelling: traditional tales/legends and historical stories.
For here was folklore that have been alive for at least 12 centuries and is still well known to the local residents in the area where the legendary events supposedly occurred. If it is that “real” for them after all this time, I hope I can create and pass on a tale that will do justice to the strength and vigor that lives within those ancient sagas. Stay tuned; it may become part of a program sometime down the road.