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  Saga (Old Norse, ‘story’) is a a form of medieval Icelandic literature and, with the exception of two or three Latin novels, is the oldest prose fiction in Europe. Most sagas are heroic legends, concerned with the (part real, part fictional) battles, jealousies and love affairs of real people living in the centuries before and including the 13th century. Fine examples include Njal\'s Saga and Laxdaela Saga. A few sagas involve the supernatural: notable among these are the swaggering Grettir\'s Saga (analogous to Beowulf or Gawain without the moralizing) and the Volsung Saga, parts of which reappear in Wagner\'s Ring of the Nibelungs. Heimskringla, by Snorri Sturluson, is not a saga but a history, in the style of a saga, of the ancient kings of Norway.

In modern usage, saga has come to mean a set of novels telling the history of a family. John Galsworthy\'s The Forsyte Saga (1906-28) was the progenitor, and the form has become an especially popular genre in the last two decades, with family and big-business alliances and feuds being treated as literary soap opera. KMcL



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