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The Poetic Edda Paperback – January 1, 1986


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Frequently Bought Together

The Poetic Edda + The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) + The Norse Myths (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The translation may indeed be regarded as the crowning achievement of a great scholar" Scandinavian-American Bulletin

About the Author

Lee M. Hollander was Professor of Germanic Languages at the University of Texas at Austin and an authority in Nordic language and literature.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 2 Revised edition (January 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292764995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292764996
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By samael775 on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
first of all, here is my review of the poetic edda itself, which i give five stars:

the poetic edda is one of the greatest collections of poetry of all times. it contains the beautifully vivid "volupso", the norse apocalypse poem, the comedic ballads, the "wrangling of Loki" and "Lay of Thrmy", the proverbial wisdom of the "sayings of har" and the mournful lays of the larger-than-heroes, the volsungs and niflungs. the edda is better written than Beowulf, the more popular northern epic, and the rhythmic verse gives it more aesthetic appeal than most epic poems. the meter, based on alliteration and caesura, whether rhythmic fornyrdislag or lilting ljodahattr, is much more pleasing to the ear than classical blank verse, which has sticter syllable stress patterns. unfortunately, the edda is not in very good condition. their are gaps in the manuscripts, and there are numerous places where it appears a scribe covered up a gap with extraneous material. the poems vary greatly in quality, and you need a good understanting of norse myths to understand what is going on (i recommend Norse Stories: Retold from the Eddas by Hamilton Mabie). none the less, the edda is a wonderful read for fans of poetry, epics, or norse mythology.

unfortunatley, of the numerous translations of the poestic edda, only four are in print, those of Bellows, Dronke, Hollander, and Larington. Bellows is an excellent translation, at least aesthetically, and it does a very good job of preserving the rhythm, if not the precise metrics of the original. It is very readable and fairly accurate. Unfortunately, only half of it is in print, but I would recommend it highly. You can find the full text at [...] but reading off the computer just isn't the same.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By J. W. Kennedy VINE VOICE on March 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's difficult reading, since Hollander has attempted (with relative success) to preserve the alliteration and rythmic patterns of the Old Norse into his Modern English translation. Subject - verb relationships are sometimes confusing. Word order is not a major issue in an inflected language like Old Norse, but in English it makes a huge difference. Hollander's literal translation requires very close reading at times in order to make sense of it. He also uses a LOT of archaisms, some of which are defined in a very brief glossary at the end, but some of which he apparently expects his reader to look up in an unabridged dictionary. This translation sounds good read aloud, but often I got the feeling that I needed to translate the translation! I already own the recent (2004) Dover reprint of the 1923 Bellows translation, which is much more readable, but it's only the first half of the Edda (the mythological poems.) I wanted to read the REST of the Edda, so when I spotted this at the bookstore I grabbed it.

There's a general introduction at the beginning, a brief introduction before each poem, and extensive footnotes running at the bottom of each page. You will need to read all of this in order to fully understand the poems. The first half consists of stories of the Norse gods and some of their doings. Probably the most famous Eddic poem is the "Voluspa" which relates a prophetic vision of the doom of the gods. The second half of the Edda contains poems about the deeds of legendary heroes. Most of them center around the Niflung/Nibelung legend. The Edda is a much more satisfying read than the Nibelungenlied (which I found to be a major disappointment.)

All in all, I would recommend the Poetic Edda to anyone with an interest in medeival literature (or an interest in Wagner or Tolkien) ... but I don't think this particular translation is the best one to get.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Sister Nissa on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Hear me, all ye hallowed beings, both high and low of Heimdall's children...." This beautiful and poetic translation of the Poetic Edda echoes the beauty of the original Old Icelandic. It would be better of course to read the Edda in the original, but if you don't speak Old Icelandic yet, this is the translation to use. It has the convenience of having numbered stanzas and doesn't simply omit stanzas, like some translations geared toward those wholly ignorant of the traditional lore of the Nordic people, and so is suitable for study. If you are unfamiliar with the Poetic Edda's contents: The poems, dealing with the Norse Gods, are to the people of the North what the stories of Moses, Abraham and Isaac are to the peoples of the Middle East. This book should be on the bookshelf of every educated English-speaking person, along with a set of Shakespeare and the King James Bible.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By telamonides on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent translation of the poetic eddas which form the basis for what we currently know about Nordic mythology. The author maintains the structure of the original and mmakes a genuine attempt at alliteration in modern english. A previous reviewer noted a problem with some of the vocabulary being unfamiliar and indeciferable, but that is the beauty of this translation, it attempts to use germanic and older english constructions to give one the feel of the original. All the vocabulary used that is not contemporary can be found glossed at the back of the book or should be available in a quality dictionary like the OED. If you are interested in Nordic culture then this is the book you want for a translation of the poetic eddas (it is also an excellent crutch for those studying old norse and making an attempt to read the eddas in the original).
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