The Old Norse Poetic Translations of Thomas Percy: A New Edition and Commentary

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Thomas Percy was the first serious translator of Old Norse-Icelandic poetry into English. He published his Five Pieces of Runic Poetry in London in 1763 and in 1770 published his translation of Mallet's very influential work on early Scandinavian literature and culture as Northern Antiquities (with extensive annotations and additions by Percy himself). In publishing Five Pieces, Percy was influenced by the success of Macpherson's first volume of Ossian poetry (1760) and his own wide-ranging interest in ancient, ...
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Overview

Thomas Percy was the first serious translator of Old Norse-Icelandic poetry into English. He published his Five Pieces of Runic Poetry in London in 1763 and in 1770 published his translation of Mallet's very influential work on early Scandinavian literature and culture as Northern Antiquities (with extensive annotations and additions by Percy himself). In publishing Five Pieces, Percy was influenced by the success of Macpherson's first volume of Ossian poetry (1760) and his own wide-ranging interest in ancient, especially 'gothic' poetry. Five Pieces had a mixed reception and was never republished as a separate work, but reappeared as an appendix to the second edn. of Northern Antiquities. Nevertheless, it was a seminal work in the history of reception and understanding of Old Norse poetry in Britain and it also has more general significance in our understanding of the development of the discipline of Old Norse-Icelandic studies. This work makes available to the modern scholarly community the work of one of the pioneers of the discipline and produces in easily accessible format a text that is currently only available as a rare book. The study comprises a facsimile of the 1763 edition, with facing-page notes to allow the modern reader to situate Percy's work in its intellectual context, together with an introduction on Percy himself, his work on Old Norse-Icelandic studies, and the contemporary context of the reception of Old Norse poetry in Britain (and to some extent in the rest of Europe). In addition, this study publishes eight other poetic translations (one from Old English and the others from Old Icelandic) that Percy completed about the same time as the translations now in Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, but did not then publish, due to the restrictions of contemporary tolerance for demanding or difficult 'ancient' poetry. This publication reveals his full range as a translator for the first time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9782503510774
  • Publisher: Brepols Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Series: Making the Middle Ages Series , #4
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and Short Titles
A Note on the Translation of Skaldic Verse
Introduction
Annotated facsimile of the 1763 edition of Five Pieces of Runic Poetry
Introduction to the Facsimile Edition 19
Preface 24
The Incantation of Hervor 52
The Dying Ode of Regner Lodbrog 90
The Ransome of Egill the Scald 132
The Funeral Song of Hacon 158
The Complaint of Harold 184
The Icelandic Originals of the Preceding Poems 204
Percy's Translations of Old Norse Poetry in Bodleian MS Percy c. 7
1 Translations from the works of Viking Age skalds 225
2 Two translations of Darraoarljoo 247
3 Extracts from the Old English Battle of Brunanburh 267
References 275
Index 285
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