The Saga of the Volsungs

( 2 )

Overview

One of the great books of world literature—an unforgettable tale of jealousy, unrequited love, greed, and vengeance.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin's Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth ...

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Overview

One of the great books of world literature—an unforgettable tale of jealousy, unrequited love, greed, and vengeance.

Based on Viking Age poems and composed in thirteenth-century Iceland, The Saga of the Volsungs combines mythology, legend, and sheer human drama in telling of the heroic deeds of Sigurd the dragon slayer, who acquires runic knowledge from one of Odin's Valkyries. Yet the saga is set in a very human world, incorporating oral memories of the fourth and fifth centuries, when Attila the Hun and other warriors fought on the northern frontiers of the Roman empire. In his illuminating Introduction Jesse L. Byock links the historical Huns, Burgundians, and Goths with the extraordinary events of this Icelandic saga. With its ill-fated Rhinegold, the sword reforged, and the magic ring of power, the saga resembles the Nibelungenlied and has been a primary source for such fantasy writers as J. R. R. Tolkien and for Richard Wagner's Ring cycle.

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Editorial Reviews

Judy Quinn
Byock extends the background to the saga beyond the interest of 'Wagnerites' to the complex relationship between history and legend in the Middle Ages and the social context of the myths and heroes of the saga... [Byock is] very successful in his adept renderings of Eddic rhythm... The translation of prose is equally fine.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140447385
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 174,354
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Byock is a professor of Icelandic and Old Norse studies at UCLA. He is the translator of The Saga of the Volsungs and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki for Penguin Classics.

Jesse Byock is a professor of Icelandic and Old Norse studies at UCLA. He is the translator of The Saga of the Volsungs and The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki for Penguin Classics.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Vikings behaving badly

    Courage, greed, cowardice, betrayal, and vengeance abound in the Saga of the Volsungs. Its blood-soaked deeds centered around Sigurd the dragon-slayer have fired the imaginations of medieval artists as well as more recent artists and writers such as Ricard Wagner and J. R. R. Tolkien. The first half of the story has many mythical elements, featuring frequent interference from Odin and the slaying of the dragon Fafnir. The second half is a much less supernatural tale of barbaric revenge and counter-revenge. Many of the episodes in the second section may be tied to historical events.

    The storytelling itself is extremely stilted, which is probably just due to the Norse style (an overly formal translation may contribute as well, but since I don't read Norse I couldn't say for sure). In my opinion, poetic renderings, some of which predate this 13th century prose version, are more enjoyable to read, but can be hard to follow if you have not first read the prose version.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

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