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The Poetic Edda (1923) Kindle Edition
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Not only is the translation a beautiful one, but Bellows' scholarly footnotes are a welcome and helpful addition. While being unobtrusive, they clear up confusing matter (these poems are often highly allusive, occasionally opaque, to the modern reader -- they were originally written for a native audience already familiar with the stories), and summarize essential and important scholarly interpretations. Regardless of whether one agree with these interpretations -- I do not always do so myself -- or whether some of these interpretations are dated -- and sometimes they are -- they nevertheless form part of the required scholarly backbone of the study of these texts.
The criticisms leveled against Bellows' translation by a previous reviewer are unjust (and in some cases, inaccurate). This reviewer complains that "This translation uses nonstandard terms which do not conform to the common English terms used for most of the characters and places." This is certainly true -- whereas it is standard English editorial practice to change the Norse characters "ð" and "þ" (the `th' sounds in "thus" and "thin," respectively) into "d," Bellows transcribes these sounds as "th." The Norse name "Óðinn" is usually given as "Odin," but Bellows (more correctly) transcribes this as "Othin." (Incidentally the form "Oþin" cited by the previous reviewer never existed, and is philologically impossible for this word.) Hence also with Norse "Sigurð," normally Anglicized to "Sigurd" but "Sigurth" in Bellows; Norse "Miðgarð," normal Anglicization "Midgard," but in Bellows "Mithgarth." (The claim of the previous reviewer, that Bellows inconsistently gives "Mithgard," is false -- I looked it up in Bellows, and he gives this as "Mithgarth," true to his editorial policy.)
Again, it should be stressed that in so doing, Bellows is MORE ACCURATE with regard to Old Norse pronunciation and the actual Old Norse names. While it is true that the god "Óðinn" is usually represented as "Odin," Bellows' form "Othin" is closer to the actual Norse form of the name. So far from being a detriment, this practice is one of the translations' several virtues. Why should "Odin" be preferred? Though the previous reviewer calls this the "English" form, in fact the English form was "Woden" -- the form "Odin" is purely and strictly editorial, and always has been. Similarly, the previous reviewer complains that Bellows' forms do not match the modern Scandinavian forms (i.e. Swedish "Midgård," or Modern Icelandic "Baldur"), but why on earth should they? This is a translation of Old Norse poems; it is proper that they therefore have OLD NORSE names; Bellows' form "Baldr" is more like Old Norse, and there is no reason why Modern Icelandic "Baldur" should be preferred.
In one respect, however, I agree with the previous reviewer's criticism of Bellows' editorial practices, and this is regarding Bellows' rendering of Old Norse "á" as "o" (i.e. Old Norse "Hávamál" is given in Bellows as "Hovamol"): this change of Bellows' actually moves AWAY from the original Old Norse pronunciation, and is without warrant.
In short, this is a beautiful and appealing translation; its academic footnotes are helpful both to the academic and the casual reader; and Bellows' editorial policy with regard to names is more accurate, in most regards, than other translations: he gives names as they appeared in Old Norse, not as they do in modern-day Scandinavia, or in standard English editorial policies. All of these are virtues of this edition.