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Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas Paperback – December 21, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (December 21, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486273482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486273488
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hélène Adeline Guerber (1859 – 1929), better known as H.A. Guerber, was a British historian most well known for her written histories of Germanic mythology. Her most well known work is Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas - George G. Harrap and Co. Ltd., 1908 in London. Other histories by Guerber include Legends of the Rhine (A.S. Barnes & Co., New York, 1895; new edition 1905), Stories of the Wagner Opera, The Book of the Epic, The Story of the Ancient World, The Story of the Greeks, The Story of the Romans, Legends of the Middle Ages, The Story of the Renaissance and Reformation, The Story of the Thirteen Colonies, and The Story of the Great Republic. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I have enjoyed this book thus far.
Forester Walker
Definitely further research is needed since Guerber is not a completely reliable source herself.
J. W. Kennedy
The tales themselves, when Geurber does not intrude explanations, are well enough told as tales.
Jim Allan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jim Allan on December 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Beware this book.

It is apparently written for older children, but is based much on unidentified sources or the author's own imagination, and is filled with careless, factual errors.

Guerber often refers vaguely and randomly to "some mythologists", "old Northmen", "ancient Northern nations", "Northern races", "the Scandinavians", "some authorities", "some accounts" as sources, only once actually mentioning Snorri Sturluson under the odd misspelling "Snorro - Sturleson". She presents unsourced desciptions and information found in no extant medieval texts. A typical example, one of many, concerns Ægir:

"He was supposed to occasion and quiet the great tempests which swept over the deep, and was generally represented as a gaunt old man, with long white beard and hair, and clawlike fingers ever clutching convulsively, as though he longed to have all things within his grasp. Whenever he appeared above the waves, it was only to pursue and overturn vessels, and to greedily drag them to the bottom of the sea, a vocation in which he was thought to take fiendish delight."

The writing is good and makes Ægir come alive. But every detail is modern invention, whether invented by Guerber or some literary source from which Guerber took it without attribution. Guerber continues with more bogus information that Ægir married his sister. Such passages abound. This might be reasonable in a work which presented itself as a retelling and reworking of Norse mythology (yet even retellings for younger children mostly stick closer to the originals). Who "supposed" Ægir to be as Guerber presents him? What does "generally represented" mean when no representation of Ægir has ever been found? Ægir was "thought to take fiendish delight" by whom?
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By unraveler on July 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book gives you something other books on Norse mythology do not. It contains 64 superb black and while illustrations which, for those who love mythology, are worth the price of the book alone. Also, this volume contains the most dramatic and compelling retelling of Ragnarok I have ever found.
In this book, the myths are partly stories and partly explanations of what stories and their characters mean. So it does not feel that you are actually reading tales. For a more "direct" reading of the tales I use Crossley-Holland's "The Norse Myths."
Also, I thought that too much was made of similarities between Greek and Northern mythology at the end of this book. Some comparisons feel artificial and strained. But one should keep in mind that this book was originally written in the 1920s, when linguists were very impressed, some would say "scandalized," by the apparent common origin of most European and some Asian languages. These languages, which today include all but three European languages, belong to the so-called Indo-European or Indo-Aryan group. It does appear that a number of characters in the Greek and Northern myths had a common Indo-Aryan prototype, but as already said, some similarities are farfetched and artificially constructed. The book contains a comprehensive index.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy VINE VOICE on December 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The original publcation date of 1909 would explain why many of the tales are watered down and a Victorian morality imposed on them. The style is charming and readable, and there's a wealth of information to pursue. Guearber does some editorializing here and there, and the final chapter which attempts to draw parallels to Greco-Roman mythology was a waste of time. One clue that Guerber did not spend much time doing actual research is that she used Roman names for the "Greek" gods in that final chapter. I'm not familiar enough with Norse mythology to point out errors there, but several reviewers here on Amazon were outraged by Guerber's inaccuracy ... I consider this a good book to start a study of Norse mythology; it's an easy read, and if nothing else at least it tells you what to look for as you continue your reading elsewhere. This should NOT be your _only_ book about Norse myth. Definitely further research is needed since Guerber is not a completely reliable source herself.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "muninnlost" on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Having basic knowledge of Norse mythology, I found this book to be an abysmal excercise in disinformation. Not only it provides an overly simplified view of a very complex religion, it also censores many myths, not providing the full picture of characteristics of the gods. It seems like this book is aimed at younger audiences which could not handle adult subject matter, and is used to the iconic perceprion of mythology in general.
If you are seriously interested in this subject, I would stay away from this book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book has got to be one of the most (if not THE most!) informative books on Norse mythology currently available.Each chapter went into great detail about Odin, Thor, Freya, etc. to the point that if you buy just one Norse mythology book for your library, this should be it. I'm going to read it again shortly just because there is so much excellent information in this tome. The highest recommendation!!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Arthem on July 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I suppose that a pagan trying to use this book as a catechism might find doctrinal errors, depending on their particular denomination. Whether or not the book provides a proper interpretation of the original sources, it is a good read, a trove of information, and a particularly interesting analysis of the similarities between greco-roman and norse mythology.
It is not an engaging read, in the sense that it is not presented as a saga itself, and thus the demarcations between subjects are dramatic. I suppose that this book falls somewhere between "encyclopedia of norse mythology" and "norse mythology for beginners."
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