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Gods and Myths of Northern Europe Paperback – January 3, 1965

ISBN-13: 978-0140136272 ISBN-10: 0140136274

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Gods and Myths of Northern Europe + The Norse Myths (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) + The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 3, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140136274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140136272
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hilda Davidson (1912-2006) was a lecturer and Vice-President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.

Customer Reviews

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As a discussion, it presents and links ideas in a way that that I found fresh and enlightening.
Abrubacca
From these sources, especially the Edda, the author reconstructs the myths and stories relating to the Norse gods and their subsequent twilight in Ragnarok.
New Age of Barbarism
I liked this book- I found it easy to read and understand, and it was not as "dated" as one would think.
BibliophilePagan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Erehwon on October 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though first published some 40 years ago, this volume remains useful as a serious, yet accessible overview of Norse mythology. But, as a starting point to those new to the subject, I would recommend The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, which is a wonderfully evocative account of the Northern pantheon.
Davidson's book is a fine overview of the subject from a more scholarly perspective. It is a book of modest scope and the author is conservative in her assertions. At times her diffidence is endearing, at others it is frustrating. Clearly, the book is a product of its time. Overall, it has withstood the test of time and I anticipate it will be used for decades to come.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on April 23, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Davidson provides an accessible, scholarly overview of Norse deities and mythology. Three of her eight chapters give us an overview of the nordic cosmos and themes, the rest tell us stories of the deities.
Odin and Thor each get their own chapters, as well as sharing a chapter on their attributes as underworld deities. Freyr and Freya also receive a chapter dedicated (mostly) to them as fertility deities. Yet another chapter considers sea deities, and a catch-all chapter discusses the remaining gods.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of this overview is Davidson's failure to discuss the differences between the Aesir and the Vanir. Although these are pointed out, the significance is not discussed in detail. Could the warrior cult of the Aesir have edged out the fertility cult of the Vanir during the chilling of the climate that has taken place over the past 2,500 years or so? Does this competition reflect the Indo-Kurgan invasions that Gimbutas wrote about, where we see the gods of the victors gaining supremacy over the deities of the conquered? What of the giants? Do they represent deeper, primal forces and archetypes? Or are they the gods of yet an earlier culture?
Those who seek a "Norse" Wicca, will do well to read about the Vanir, Freyr & Freyja. This chapter lays out a nice outline of the nordic fertility tradition (which is congruent with Wicca, unlike the battle tradition of Odin & Thor). Davidson discusses the roles of the "volva" or witches/seers and their magic or "seithr."
This is an excellent comprehensive overview for somebody who would like an introduction to the Norse Mythos.
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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on June 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
H.S. Ellis Davidson wrote GODS AND MYTHS OF NORTHERN EUROPE around forty years ago, when other people's belief systems were viewed as myths and Christianity was viewed as "the one true religion" even by scholars. Although Davidson was objective as she could be and still be published, a modern scholar would have less concern with what other people think. Still, this book is a useful place to begin if you seek to know more about the gods of the Germans, Swedes, Danes and other northern people.
Davidson relies on three main sources, Procopius (writing in the early 6th Century in Byzantium), Tacitus (writing in the later Roman Empire), and Snorri Sturlson who attempted to set down the story he found in Iceland in the Prose Edda in the early Middle Ages.
Davidson says of Sturlson, "There is little doubt that on the whole Snorri has given us a faithful picture of heathen mythology as he found it in the poets." Davidson has some reservations about the Prose Edda, however, because it records what had heretofore been an oral tradition. However, all early history has an oral basis, including the Bible. Modern archeology is providing much evidence that what is found in these older texts has a basis in fact.
Why should you read this book? If you are an opera fan, you will learn more about the Valkyries, Valhalla, and the Ring Cycle. If you're a fan of literature you will gain insight into the symbols contained in poems and prose. You might better understand Beowolf or Elliot's poem "The Wasteland." If you are interested old paintings, you might better understand some of the attributes of saints, or other "holy" people. Tarot readers may better understand the cards. If you puzzle over fairytales and nursery rhymes you may find enlightenment.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rig Svenson on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson was born at Bebington, Cheshire, in 1914. She was educated at Park High School for Girls, Birkenhead, and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she took Firsts in English and Archaeology. She received her Ph.D in 1940 after three years of research under Professor and Mrs. Chadwick into the pagan beliefs of Scandinavia. In my opinion, her works rank amongst the best that have ever been penned by a female scholar of Northern Myths despite the fact that this particular submission was originally written in 1964, some 40 years ago!Read more ›
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