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Edda (Everyman) [Paperback]

Snorri Sturluson , Anthony Faulkes
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Jan 2008 0460876163 978-0460876162 New Ed

Over a period of twenty years, Snorri Sturluson, scholar, courtier and poet, compiled the prose EDDA as a textbook for young poets who wished to praise kings. His work surveys the content, style and metres of traditional Viking poetry and includes a poem of Snorri's own, praising the king of Norway. Ironically, Snorri was killed in his own cellar in 1241 on the instigation of the king of Norway as a result of political intrigue.

The EDDA contains the most extensive account of Norse myths and legends that has survived from the Middle Ages. This is the only edition available with introduction, text summaries, indexes and chronology of early Icelandic literature.

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Edda (Everyman) + The Elder Edda (Legends from the Ancient North)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (23 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460876163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460876162
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 12.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

The only English translation to include the complete work - a must-have for all students of early Norse literature.

About the Author

Snorri Sturluson, historian, poet and politician, was born at Hvamm in western Iceland in 1179. He belonged to an aristocratic family, the Sturlungar. Snorri acquired great wealth and power and was twice lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, and twice visited Norway, where he became embroiled in the politics of King Hakon Hakonarson and the king's father-in-law, Earl Skuli. The latter rebelled against the king and was killed. Snorri also became subject to the king's displeasure and was killed in 1241 in his own cellar.

His HEIMSKRINGLA is the best account of medieval Scandinavian history. He may also be the author of EGILS SAGA, one of the finest of the Sagas of Icelanders.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Almighty God created heaven and earth and all things in them, and lastly two humans from whom generations are descended, Adam and Eve, and their stock multiplied and spread over all the world. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best there is. 20 Jun 2014
By Herian
Superb and totally authoritative translation of the most important single text on Old Norse mythology. The Penguin translation by Jesse Byock is nicely readable but far from complete. This is the whole thing - all three parts and the Prologue.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected 26 April 2014
By Gwydion
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
That's my fault I suppose, but I had hoped for a more reader-friendly text. I've gone for The Penguin book of Norse Myths - excellent
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13 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The most renowned Norse scholar 19 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Whilst this book can be a little "dry" for many, it has to be said that any studying the Runes or the Norse Tradition owe it to themselves to give this book a go. Snorri Sturluson is easily the most widely recognised authority on the Eddas, and many other scholars refer back to this work frequently.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
245 of 248 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not for dilettantes 18 Feb 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
There are two chief sources for the Norse myths, the Elder (Poetic) Edda and the Younger (Prose) Edda. This is a translation of the Prose Edda and includes the creation of the earth from the remains of the giant Ymir, the death of Baldr, the twilight of the gods (Ragnarök), and certain stories of Sigurd and Brynhild (Siegfried and Brünnhilde in Wagner's operas). Most translations include only the parts that are "of interest to the general reader", but this one is complete, so you can make your own judgment about which parts to read and which to skip. The translation is solid, though perhaps a little flat at times, and the price is right. Definitely for those with more than a passing interest in Norse mythology, though; if you just want to read the stories without bothering about the literary sources, you might be better off with a retelling, e.g. Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne.
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The current standard English edition of the Prose Edda 12 Feb 2009
By diakritikos - Published on Amazon.com
This is Anthony Faulkes's acclaimed translation of what is now more commonly (and specifically) known as the Prose Edda. This translation has some features going for it from the onset that other English language translations of the Prose Edda do not; it includes the books Skáldskaparmál and Háttatal, which most translations lack. For example, the most recent major translation of the Prose Edda (Jesse Byock's translation) features a butchered and very simplified version of these two books. These two books are immensely important for the ancient skaldic lays, kennings, and lists they contain, and as one interested in these subjects, you cannot do without them.

For those unaware, the Prose Edda consists of four books. Of these books, the best known is Gylfaginning, which presents quite a lot of Norse lore in a prose-based question-answer format.

For those of you who have this translation, you may be interested in Faulkes' extensive and enlightening translation notes, freely available online, plus many other interesting (and free) Viking Society PDF articles and essays:
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the wonderful dry humor! 20 Sep 2004
By S. Berg - Published on Amazon.com
I agree with the review from 1998, and wanted to add that this translation really captures the dry humor in Sturluson's Edda. The Scandanavians (myself included) have wonderful dry humor, and Norse mythology is full of it as well. This is an excellent translation that does not lose the essence of the Edda.

But, like the reviewer before me recommended, do not buy this translation if you're looking for an easy-to-read story book, because Sturluson's Edda was never that. It is the primary resource that Norse mythology writers use to tell their tales of the Norse heroes and gods. Most excellent for academic purposes or Norse mythology fanatics like me! Also, I recommend Norse mythology over Greek or Roman any day. The Norse aren't whiny and annoying like the poor saps in Greek and Roman mythology.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important reference, few complaints 3 Sep 2008
By Christopher R. Travers - Published on Amazon.com
For students of Norse mythology and Skaldic, Snorri's "Edda" is an important sourcebook. With a few exceptions, I think that the author did a good job of allowing a useful rendition of this 13th centory handbook.

Snorri wrote "Edda" as a handbook to understanding Skaldic poetics. The title may refer to the fact that by Snorri's day, "Edda" (literally "Grandmother") was seen as a label for "poetics."

Snorri's work is in three parts: Gylfaginning which is an introduction to Norse myth, Skaldskaparmal, which is an introduction to the poetic language of kennings and similar verbal formulas, and Hattatal which is an introduction to skaldic forms. Most editions do not include Hattatal, since most people are only interested in the mythic aspects. The inclusion of Hattatal makes this version particularly useful.

The work is well translated, though there are two areas where some improvement could have been made. The first is that the original chapter headings are omitted, so it is impossible to know for sure what chapter of Gylfaginning a specific reference is found in, and the same goes for Skaldskaparmal.

A second thing that would be helpful would have been the inclusion of the Icelandic original when verses are quoted. I do not think it is feasible to translate skaldic verse forms out of Icelandic, so the translation as prose doesn't bother me. However, having the original source would allow a feel for what the original impact was. Note that this is the approach taken in Hattatal and it would have been nicer to see it throughout the whole book.

All in all, I would recommend this edition to any student of Norse myth or Skaldic poetry, though other editions might be useful in a supplemental role for the reasons noted above.
70 of 95 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring 20 May 2005
By J. W. Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book. I love Sagas of Icelanders. I was ecstatic over the Poetic Edda. Snorri's "Prose Edda" was frequently mentioned in my other reading, and I decided I would have to check it out. What a disappointment.

I must clarify that by saying that the Prose Edda is an EXTREMELY important book of immense value to students of Medeival literature (specifically Scandinavian / Norse / Icelandic.) It is the single most complete record of Norse mythology which we have today, and along with the Poetic Edda, constitutes practically the sole source of material for all books which re-tell the mythological stories. But the Edda is, unfortunately, a book to be read only for the value of the information it contains; not for entertainment. All of the interesting material in the Edda is re-told (in much more readable ways) elsewhere. Snorri himself, in the course of this book, re-tells "Voluspa" (from the Poetic Edda) and gives a brief synopsis of the Volsunga Saga.

Edda was written as a handbook for poets and scholars, to aid in understanding ancient Scandinavian poetry, which was thick with mythological allusions. Edda also provides guidelines for composing new poems using traditional forms. It was written two or three centuries into the Christian era of northern Europe, when old pagan lore was already nearly forgotten. Snorri's book kept his ancestor's cultural heritage from disappearing completely. He treats the old myths very kindly, but is careful to throw in the obligatory Christian warnings about "false religion." According to "Gylfaginning," (the first and most interesting part of the Edda) the Norse gods - the Aesir - were originally a tribe of people who migrated to the North from Turkey. They were veterans of the Trojan War (!) so cultured and technologically advanced that they were regarded as gods by the ignorant folk in the lands they conquered and settled. According to Snorri, most of the mythological stories are analogous to episodes from the Iliad.

The second section of the Edda is called "Skaldskaparmal" and it is very tedious. It consists of a mythological discussion between Aegir (the sea god) and Bragi (the god of poetry) in which Bragi explains various kinds of kennings. A kenning is a poetic figure of speech in which a person or object is referred to by describing it in terms of another person or object. Then that secondary person or object can be referred to by yet another substitute, down to 4 or 5 levels of circumlocution, all of which has to be figured out by the listener to determine exactly what the poet is talking about. Kennings are like riddles, allegories, metaphors, and allusions rolled all into one. A fairly detailed myhtological background is required to make sense of them - thus, the reason for the Edda. A few stories are told which explain some kennings, but gradually Snorri loses track of the "conversation" that initially provided structure for this section, and the reader gets mired amidst interminable lists of poetic synonyms for swords, ships, gold, and so on. Quotes from old poems illustrate the use of many of the kennings.

The translator - for reasons which are certainly valid - opted to render all of the verse as prose, preserving its literal meaning [with allegorical meanings choppily inserted in square brackets,] but utterly detroying its power as POETRY.

The final section is called "Hattatal" and it consists of a few verse quotations and three original poems composed by Snorri himself in a different style for each verse, with sections of prose in between stanzas to explain the technical details (rhyme, meter, alliteration, etc) of each style. There's a total of 102 verses in the Hattatal, and the poetry here is actually somewhat interesting; more so, at least, than the nuts-and-bolts discussion of the fine points of skaldic composition. In this section, each verse is presented in the original Old Icelandic (with modernized spelling) with English translation underneath.

At the end of this volume, the translator has provided a handy eight-page summary that will tell you what you missed and/or forgot as you slogged in a bleary-eyed daze through Skaldskaparmal and Hattatal. There's also an alphabetical index of names so you can look up things and use the Edda for what it was intended to be: a reference book.

I'm glad I read it, I guess, since I am pretty "into" this kind of thing ... but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is just curious about Norse mythology. Sure, this book is "the Source" but you'll have more fun reading one of the dozens of more recent re-tellings.
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