Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Poetic Edda

The Poetic Edda Cover

Book: The Poetic Edda by Lee Hollander

This is an excellent Translation of the poetic eddas which form the basis for what we currently know about Nordic mythology. The author maintains the structure of the original and mmakes a genuine attempt at alliteration in modern english. A previous reviewer noted a problem with some of the vocabulary being unfamiliar and indeciferable, but that is the beauty of this translation, it attempts to use germanic and older english constructions to give one the feel of the original. All the vocabulary used that is not contemporary can be found glossed at the back of the book or should be available in a quality dictionary like the OED. If you are interested in Nordic culture then this is the book you want for a translation of the poetic eddas (it is also an excellent crutch for those studying old norse and making an attempt to read the eddas in the original).

The translation may indeed be regarded as the crowning achievement of a great scholar." --Scandinavian-American Bulletin The Poetic Edda comprises a treasure trove of mythic and spiritual verse holding an important place in Nordic culture, literature, and heritage. Its tales of strife and death form a repository, in poetic form, of Norse Mythology and heroic lore, embodying both the ethical views and the cultural life of the North during the late heathen and early Christian times. Collected by an unidentified Icelander, probably during the twelfth or thirteenth century, The Poetic Edda was rediscovered in Iceland in the seventeenth century by Danish scholars. Even then its value as poetry, as a source of historical information, and as a collection of entertaining stories was recognized. This meticulous translation succeeds in reproducing the verse patterns, the rhythm, the mood, and the dignity of the original in a revision that Scandinavian Studies says "may well grace anyone's bookshelf.

This is a translation of the Poetic Edda that attempts to keep every potent inch of it. For those looking for an easy read, its not. But this never should attempt to be an 'easy read' in the first place. That isn't the goal of the Poetic Edda. If you want to lazily learn about Norse Mtyhs, there are a lot of other options out there.
"The Norse Myths" by Kevin-Crossley-Holland, for example. Easy to read, easy to understand, very accessible that book is. As massivly indepth and insightful as the Poetic Edda is, it is not.

If you want to actually get into the knitty gritty of Norse Mythology, if you actually want to examine it for what it is. This is the ticket. Any attempt to easy it down, would detract from the value of the knowledge carried with in it, which should be exactly what anyone reading this should want to avoid.

Hollander gives us the Kennings as they are, and explains them for what they are. He gives us a description about each text, what it went through to get to use today. If its missing parts, interloping, and general meaning. As well as a description of how the poems should be read.

There are some old words like 'ere' and others that might not ring any bells. They allow the translater to stay a bit more true to the original text. You might have to make a bit of an effort at first whenever one pops up to look to understand it. But its not a steep learning curve, it is English.

This is essential for anyone who is genuinely interested in the Poetic Edda. Meanwhile, anyone looking for stories of Norse myths to idly entertain them, you should probably play down to something more simple.

Buy Lee Hollander's book: The Poetic Edda

Books in PDF format to read:

Tuesday Lobsang Rampa - The Third Eye
Starhwak - The Spiral Dance
Morwyn - The Golden Dawn
Snorri Sturlson - The Prose Edda Ver 2