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The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 26, 2011

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The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore (Penguin Classics) + The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) + The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435856
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ANDY ORCHARD is Professor of English and Medieval Studies in the University of Toronto, and since 2007 Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. He is the author of The Poetic Art of Aldhelm (1994), Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the 'Beowulf'-Manuscript (2nd edition 2003), The Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (3rd edition 2002), and A Critical Companion to 'Beowulf' (2nd edition 2005), as well as editor and co-editor of several collections, scholarly journals and academic series.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 65 people found the following review helpful By diakritikos on September 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being familiar with Andy Orchard's handbook on Norse mythology ("Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend", 1997) and finding it to be a nice middle ground between Rudolf Simek's deeply flawed handbook and the limited scope of John Lindow's own, it was with high hopes that I waited for Andy Orchard's 2011 English translation of the Poetic Edda, or, alternately, as Orchard has chosen to go with here, the "Elder Edda". Specifically I had hoped that Orchard's 2011 Penguin Classics translation would be a superior alternative to Carolyne Larrington's commonly available Oxford World's Classics translation (titled "The Poetic Edda" and first published in 1996). Unfortunately, Orchard's translation not only continues most of the problems found in Larrington's translation, but also introduces a variety of new issues.

Let's begin with the title. This translation of the Poetic Edda is titled "The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore", and the material contained within is frequently referred to as "viking lore" throughout. Referring to these poems as "viking lore" may have been a marketing decision intended to move units, but it is unfortunately misleading; the lore in question primarily dates from the Viking Age, sure, but elements of the compositions date at least as far back as the Migration Period (the 5th to 9th century CE) and other elements are from a few hundred years after the Viking Age ended (the Poetic Edda was compiled in the 13th century and the Viking Age is held to have ended in the 11th century). Further, famous as the vikings are, they made up a small fraction of Scandinavian society at their greatest. Daily life among the vast majority of the North Germanic peoples was focused squarely on matters pastoral and agricultural and had little to do with this specific class of Norsemen.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Spence the Elder on August 18, 2011
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"The Elder Edda: A book of Viking Lore", is a very enjoyable modern update of the Elder Edda. While Professor Orchard's translation does not provide any grandiose revelations or changes to the Elder Edda it does provide a very readable, (in the modern sense), and affordable update of these fantastic windows into pre-Christian Germanic life and Lore. If you have just a passing interest in the Norse Myths then perhaps the Elder Edda is not for you. They can be a bit tedious and confusing with all the kennings, (see: [thank you Am.... for removing a link that would helped your customers]). I would suggest any of the numerous Young Adult prose versions of the Saga's and Edda, (let me know if you want some suggestions). If however, you would like to read the poetry of the Norsemen in modern English, (vs. the fairly well done but anachronistic, Hollander version or the fairly archaic Victorian translations), this is the best bang for your buck. Professor Orchard has succeeded in striking an extremely good balance between today's language, the Norse poetic meter and the original intent and meanings of the poems without being verbose or over worded. Having done numerous translations of military documents myself, I understand some of the difficulty involved. To do it with poetry would be a nightmare I'd rather avoid.

As would be expected, this work is very well indexed and has over 60 pages of footnotes! Wow! This is something a lore junkie like me loves. While I haven't had the time to scrutinize each and every one of them, I have gone over quite a few and they are quite accurate. It is truly refreshing to run across an academically correct and recognized work on Norse Mythology that is not incredibly boring and dry.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mórlóg on September 6, 2011
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This translation is excellent, and in many ways superior to some of the older translations of the Eddas. The language used is very straight forward. Mr. Orchard doesn't use a lot of fifty cent words for poetic effect, he conveys the message of the stanza. He uses a lot of shall I say colorful language in his descriptions. I was trying to read through the Lokasenna with my lore study group, and we needed to take a laugh break because of the way the information was presented. Additionally the way he presented the information left me with a strong mental image of how the scene in Aegir's hall was being played out. Even for someone who has tried reading the Eddas before, and struggled with the style in which it was written I think would enjoy this translation of the Eddas. This translation is well worth the investment.
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I first heard of the Elder Edda when reading about sources and inspirations for my favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien. The Elder Edda is a series of poems, also known as the Codex Regius, which were collected nearly a thousand years ago in Iceland. This edition contains all of the Mythological and Heroic poems as well as some additional, related eddas which were not originally part of the Codex Regius. The compiler and translater is Andy Orchard, who has also provided an extensive Introduction with a reading list and websites for additional information as well as comprehensive Notes.

My knowledge of the Elder Edda before reading this version was limited to knowing that the names of many of Tolkien's dwarves in The Hobbit are to be found in the first poem in the cycle, the Voluspa or Prophecy of the Seeress. As I read more of the poems I recognized in their meter and general pacing many similarities to Tolkien's own poetry, especially those he composed for the Rohirrim in The Lord of the Rings. Now that I've been exposed to the Elder Edda I understand the attraction these poems held for Tolkien in their depictions of a wild, storm tossed world filled with conflict and strife but also with a strange beauty.
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