Bringing alive the dramatic poems of Old Norse heroic legend, this new collection offers accessible, ground-breaking and inspiring essays which introduce and analyse the exciting legends of the two doomed Helgis and their valkyrie lovers; the dragon-slayer Sigurðr; Brynhildr the implacable shield-maiden; tragic Guðrún and her children; Attila the Hun (from a Norse perspective!); and greedy King Fróði, whose name lives on in Tolkien’s Frodo. The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the poems for students, taking a number of fresh, theoretically-sophisticated and productive approaches to the poetry and its characters. Contributors bring to bear insights generated by comparative study, speech act and feminist theory, queer theory and psychoanalytic theory (among others) to raise new, probing questions about the heroic poetry and its reception.
Each essay is accompanied by up-to-date lists of further reading and a contextualisation of the poems or texts discussed in critical history. Drawing on the latest international studies of the poems in their manuscript context, and written by experts in their individual fields, engaging with the texts in their original language and context, but presented with full translations, this companion volume to The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology (Routledge, 2002) is accessible to students and illuminating for experts. Essays also examine the afterlife of the heroic poems in Norse legendary saga, late medieval Icelandic poetry, the nineteenth-century operas of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, and the recently published (posthumous) poem by Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.
Table of Contents
1. Heroic Homosociality and Homophobia in the Helgi Poems David Clark 2. Sigurðr, A Medieval Hero: A Manuscript-Based Interpretation of the "Young Sigurðr Poems" Edgar Haimerl 3. Dragons in the Eddas and in Early Nordic Art Paul Acker 4. Elegy in Eddic Poetry: Its Origin and Context Daniel Sävborg 5. Guðrúnarkviða in fyrsta: Guðrún’s Healing Tears Thomas D. Hill 6. ‘Gerðit hon ... sem konor aðrar’: Women and Subversion in Eddic Heroic Poetry Jóhanna Katrín Friđriksdóttir 7. ‘I have long desired to cure you of old age’: Mothers, Siblings and Murder in the Later Heroic Poems of the Edda Carolyne Larrington 8. Mythological Motivation in Eddic Heroic Poetry: interpreting Grottasöngr Judy Quinn 9. The Eddica minora: A Lesser Poetic Edda?Margaret Clunies Ross 10. Fornaldarsögur and Heroic Legends of the Edda Elizabeth Ashman Rowe 12. Wagner, Morris and the Sigurd Figure: Confronting Freedom and Uncertainty David Ashurst 13. Writing into the Gap: Tolkien’s Reconstruction of the Legends of Sigurd and Gudrún Tom Shippey
Paul Acker is Professor of English at Saint Louis University, where he teaches Old English, Old Icelandic, and History of the English Language.
Carolyne Larrington is Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Language and Literature at St John’s College, Oxford.
'The 13 contributors offer an indispensable guide to the field of Norse poetry by examining passages in their original language and in English translation. Modern critical theory informs the perceptive close readings of a very broad set of topics ranging from dragons to sibling dramas, women and subversion, or Tolkien's efforts at reconstructing the Sigurd and Gudrún legends. For libraries collecting in medieval poetry and mythology. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' - J. G. Holland, emeritus, Davidson College in CHOICE