Saga vs. Series



RT @melissa_marr *lit teacher moment* I didn’t write a saga–which is a specific type of text, NOT another wd for “series.” 

Thank you, Melissa Marr, author of the Wicked Lovely series, for this clarification.

According to the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory (Fourth Edition!) sagas were:

medieval Icelandic and Scandinavian prose narratives usually about a famous hero or family or the exploits of heroic kings and warriors.

Makes me wish the New Moon publicists had bothered to crack a dictionary or, heck,, before labeling the movie franchise The Twilight Saga. I spent four years as a groupie at the Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium, so this chafes me more than it does ordinary folks.

Further, Twilight is not a saga novel, an early 20th century innovation that generally involves a series of novels focusing on a large family over a period of many years. If you really want to read a saga, go pick up The Sagas of the Icelanders, a truly hefty paperback that collects these stories rendered in clean and modern English prose.

I want fan art illustrating the saga versus series struggle. In particular I want chibi Viking vs. Edward pictures. But remember, as NYU’s esteemed Anglo-Saxonist Haruko Momma reminded us non-specialists in Old English I, Viking helmets wouldn’t have had horns on them: “Would you go into battle with handles on your head? Very stupid.”


Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

The Sagas of the Icelanders: A Selection. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.


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