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A Dictionary of Northern Mythology Paperback – April 28, 2008


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A Dictionary of Northern Mythology + Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs + The Norse Myths (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: BOYE6 (April 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0859915131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0859915137
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

There is not a page that does not inform and enthuse. RUNAScholarly and precise - should be established as the standard work on its subject - belongs in any major reference collection. --Reference Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The main secondary sources Simek cites are highly reputable.
Ian M. Slater
This is a great study guide and useful tool if you are truly interested in understanding Northern Mythology.
Timothy
This is a great overview and reference for Germanic and Norse mythology.
A. Turpen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater on December 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely comprehensive presentation, mainly from the linguistic side, of Scandinavian divine mythology, and related material (literary and inscriptional) from other Germanic-speaking regions. It is a translation, somewhat revised by the author, of "Lexikon der germanischen Mythologie," originally published in 1984. Angela Hall's translation reads well, although the German sentence structure and vocabulary show through from time to time. (Works of literature "come into being.") There also some minor annoyances: Why use an unusual word like "descendancy" (as in "belief in the divine descendancy of the Germanic kings"), when "descent" is available?

The perspective throughout is continental and German, rather than, like most of the works currently available in English, Scandinavian or Anglo-American. Heroic legends are considered only where they unquestionably overlap with stories of the gods, or appear to preserve descriptions of rituals and beliefs. Scandinavian words and names are generally given in their original spelling, including special letters and accents, either as the main heading, or at least as an alternative to a familiar Anglicized spelling. (Some casual readers may find this annoying, but it is extremely useful.) Latin sources include not only the inevitable Caesar, Tacitus, and Pliny, but inscriptions with Germanic, or possibly Germanic, names, notably including dedications to the "Matronae," on which the readily available literature in English is rather small.

Three quarters of fairly serious study of Old English at UCLA, plus a lot of unsystematic reading, does not give me the background to pass an independent judgment on the etymologies, but the German edition seems to have been well-received by the professional community.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Szymanski on December 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have been working on a novel regarding Nordic Mythology for 2 years and have found Simek's Dictionary to be the single, best resource for checking facts in a quick, orderly fashion. Though a translation, it is very readable whether for research or browsing. Simek melds Teutonic and Norse subjects with etymology, cross references and original sources, as well as insightful interpretations and bibliography under entries. No pictures, all images are verbal.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By diakritikos on February 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now in print for nearly 30 years, Rudolf Simek's well-known handbook is often celebrated for its breadth of coverage, yet so far rarely is it pointed out that--after all these years and editions--it still contains as much useful information as it does flaws.

The most immediately obvious issue is the lack of an index or table of contents of any kind. This situation is made more problematic by referrals to entries that do not exist or appear to have been absorbed into other entries (for example "stag cult"). The only organization that occurs in this work is bare-boned alphabetical order. In other words, prepare to sail solo in a sea of small entries about votive inscriptions, my friend.

Much more of a problem is Simek's presentation of theory as fact combined with hyper-criticism of Snorri. Simek's approach to Snorri seems to owe something to the infamous ideological sphere of Eugen Mogk and Sophus Bugge. In other words, Simek generally seems to be of the school of thought that if Snorri is the only one to attest to something, then clearly Snorri must have simply made it up or was just confused. Sure, while Snorri's systematic, manual-writing approach may sometimes veer off into synthesis and blatant Euhemerism, Simek's criticisms are often rooted in plain conjecture, frequently throwing the principle of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" to the wind. Sometimes these criticisms are even flatly wrong. For example, in an entry for "Vanaheimr", Simek matter-of-factly states that, in the Prose Edda book "Gylfaginning", Snorri "unquestionably invented the name as a counterpart to Asgard".
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Buck on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Dictionary of Norse Mythology by Rudolf Simek was originally published in German in 1984 and appeared in an English translation by Angela Hall in 1993, ISBN 0 85991 369 4. The publisher of the English translation is D. S. Brewer. 425 pages in length and in a usual-size format, this dictionary is extremely thorough. This work covers not only the relatively large corpus of Scandinavian materials, but also the much more sparse mythological remains from the other Germanic areas. The more lengthy entries have a bibliography at the end. There is also a very large bibliography at the end. Thus, it functions not only as a reference tool, but as a guide to in-depth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on December 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In general, I have found dictionaries of mythology to be relatively difficult to get real use out of unless one is already familiar with the material. This work is the exception to that rule.

Simek provides a great deal of information in this work and references to the sources. Hence it is an extremely useful work when one wants to get a quick overview of his views on the sources, with enough material to go further and check for yourself. Obviously like all secondary sources, it should not be taken fully at face value.

What sets this work apart from other dictionaries of mythology is the depth the author goes in exploring etymologies of names and providing usable source citations. Hence even if you know the mythic material, the work provides some additional elements not found in simply looking at the sources. However, at the same time, the sources are properly cited so you can go and read more.

In general, I would consider this to be an absolutely indispensable reference for serious work in the fields relating to Germanic mythology and saga.
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