The Icelandic scholar and antiquarian Árni Magnússon (1663-1730) - Arnas Magnæus in Latinised form - spent much of his life building up what is by common consent the single most important collection of early Scandinavian manuscripts in existence. The collection, now divided between Copenhagen and Reykjavík, comprises nearly 3000 items, the earliest dating from the 12th century. The majority of these are from Árni's native Iceland, but there are also many important Norwegian, Danish and Swedish manuscripts, along with a small number of continental European provenance.
In his new biography, Már Jónsson, professor of history at the University of Iceland, explores in particular how Árni Magnússon's great passion for parchment developed, and places it in the intellectual context of Árni's own time. Based largely on Árni's correspondence and notes on the manuscripts in his collection - many previously unknown to scholars - Arnas Magnæus philologus offers a rare insight into this complex and intriguing man who did more than anyone else to ensure the survival of Old Norse Icelandic literature.
The Viking Collection was founded by the late Gerd Wolfgang Weber and Preben Meulengracht Sørensen to provide students and scholars in the field of Scandinavian studies, especially Old Norse and other Medieval areas, with a library of books on central topics of Northern civilization. It was - and is - the editors' hope that this selection of studies will appeal also to the general reader with an interest in the Scandinavian past. The Viking Collection contains mainly original works, but a few translations are also included. English is the language of the series.