“Finn the Squinter, who was the father of Eyvind the Plagiarist,” or Who would you be in an Icelandic saga?
The rest of the top five? Thorvald the Overbearing is pretty good, but nowhere near Audun the Uninspired. But the two characters with the best names come from the same family: “Finn the Squinter, who was the father of Eyvind the Plagiarist.”
Epithets are more important in Egil’s Saga than in other Icelandic sagas I’d read previously. The title character, for example, is Egil Skallagrimsson. Egil is his given name, and the –son indicates that the surname is a patronymic. Egil’s father, that is, was Skallagrim. But skalla is yet another epithet; it means bald. The character’s name, then, means Bald Grim. (Skallagrim’s father, by the way, is Kveldulf, which means night wolf.)
The fun with names extends beyond what the author and translator could have intended. This bit:
“Harald Gormsson has ascended to the throne of Denmark on the death of his father, Gorm.”
What would your name be if you were a character in an Icelandic saga?
Scudder was much missed in the crime-writing community when he died. I can see why. Like Don Bartlett, who translates Jo Nesbø’s novels from Norwegian in to English, Scudder knew how to produce, fluent, readable versions in English.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013