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A Dictionary of Northern Mythology Paperback – April 28, 2008
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Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.Read more ›
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".Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this book for my husband and he absolutely loves it. This book has much more concise information he was looking for compared to other books I have ordered for him on the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you frequently refer to Norse Mythology, or are a student of it, then this book provides a valuable resource. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Heather OBrien
This book was delivered right on time. It is a wonderful source of information and I look forward to finishing it. A great addition to my mythology collection.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Seems to be the One to have. The few mistakes or omissions noted by other Amazon users are nugatory, but duly noted. Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by Leatherbags Reynolds
This is a great study guide and useful tool if you are truly interested in understanding Northern Mythology. I find myself referencing it quite often.Published on November 6, 2013 by Timothy
This has everything that you'll ever need to know about Norse or Northern Mythology. It has everything from well known to almost unknown passage in our history. Read morePublished on March 11, 2013 by Wolf
This is a book every Heathen should probably have. It covers most terminology, the origins of the Mythology, stores, characters and a lot of other information.Published on March 3, 2013 by Sk William J. Sikkens
Simply said, this book is a must have book for all Heathens. If you own only one book about Asatru/Heathenry, this should be the one.Published on January 19, 2013 by Scott C Wahouske
I ordered and received this reference work in November, 2007 only to find that the binding was so poor that the page signatures literally fell out. Read morePublished on December 8, 2007 by Webistrator