Árbók hins Íslenzka fornleifafélags

I think I spelled that right.

The library here at Cal has the issues of this journal from 1926 to 1936 bound together and on the shelves. That is it. Nothing from before 1926, and nothing after 1936.

Other university libraries in the UC system (UCLA and UC San Diego) have earlier issues, but nothing later. So I went online to look at the digital holdings. I found a Google Library version of the issues from 1885 to 1890. I am reading through that now. And then bingo, the website Timarit.is has all the articles, 1881 to 2001, online.

I am enjoying the issue from 1885 though. It is fascinating because back then, 125 years ago, Icelandic was written different. Jeg instead of Ég. Sjer instead of Sér. I suppose these spellings, which make Icelandic look more like Danish, were removed for just that reason. It is also fascinating because of the way archaeologists back then used the sagas in their work and knew all the saga characters and events. Very different from today.

So, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I am spending tonight in conversation with a long-dead Icelandic antiquarian. And I can also keep perusing to my hearts content the journal holdings of the National Library of Iceland, from thousands and thousands of miles away.

Of course I would rather have the actual books, either have all the volumes here in California, or be in Iceland myself. Either way would be OK with me. But I can't fix the budget of the University of California, and I can't fix the job market in Iceland.

All I can do is be grateful that at least the internet if free, and useful, and not to be taken for granted.


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