The aim of the project is to examine the variance of Njáls saga from a linguistic, philological and literary perspective, both synchronically as regards the earliest manuscripts (which date from the 14th century), and diachronically by cataloguing changes that take place over time. Drawing on recent text-critical theories that emphasise the variance of the manuscript text, the project is focusing on neglected aspects of the Njála tradition such as the fragmentary medieval manuscripts and the little-studied manuscript Gráskinna, and the post-medieval manuscript tradition. In this way, the project seeks to show what the living tradition of Njáls saga was like at different stages of the saga’s transmission, what characterised the Njála text — and the material appearance of its manuscripts — at various junctures from the 14th century to the 19th century, and how these variations reflect the views and needs of scribes, patrons and users over time. Marked-up XML transcriptions of the medieval manuscript texts of the saga will form the basis for an electronic text archive of Njáls saga, a computer-assisted reconsideration of the Njála stemma published by Einar Ólafur Sveinsson in his 1953 monograph Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Njálssaga (Reykjavík) and ultimately, a new digital edition of the saga.
The project is funded by Rannís (The Icelandic Research Fund) and is being conducted at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum (The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies) in Reykjavík, Iceland. The duration of the project is 3 years (2011-2013); the Principal Investigator is Dr Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir.