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The þættir (Old Norse singular þáttr, literally meaning a "strand" of rope or yarn[1][2]) are short stories written mostly in Iceland during the 13th and 14th centuries.

The majority of þættir occur in two compendious manuscripts, Morkinskinna and Flateyjarbók, and within them most are found as digressions within kings' sagas. Sverrir Tómasson regards those in Morkinskinna, at least, as exempla or illustrations inseparable from the narratives that contain them, filling out the picture of the kings' qualities, good and bad, as well as adding comic relief.[3]

Íslendinga þættir[edit]

The short tales of Icelanders or Íslendinga þættir focus on Icelanders, often relating the story of their travels abroad to the court of a Norwegian king.

List of short tales:

Legendary þættir[edit]

Other þættir[edit]


  1. ^ O'Donoghue (2004:226).
  2. ^ Sverrir Tómasson (2006:112).
  3. ^ Sverrir Tómasson (2006:111-13).


  • Ármann Jakobsson (2013). 'The life and death of the medieval Icelandic short story'. JEGP, Journal of English and Germanic Philology. 112. pp. 257-291
  • Ashman Rowe, Elizabeth & Harris, Joseph (2007). 'Short Prose Narrative (þáttr)', in Rory McTurk (ed.) A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 462-478
  • Lindow, John (1978). "Old Icelandic þáttr: Early usage and semantic history". Scripta Islandica. 29: 3–44. 
  • Lindow, John (1993). "Þáttr". In Pulsiano, Phillip; Wolf, Kirsten. Medieval Scandinavia: An encyclopedia. New York: Garland. pp. 661–662. ISBN 0824047877. 
  • O'Donoghue, Heather (2004). Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-631-23626-9
  • Sverrir Tómasson (2006). "Old Icelandic Prose," tr. Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir, in Daisy Neijmann, ed. A History of Icelandic Literature. Lincoln: University of Nebraska. ISBN 978-0-8032-3346-1