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The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
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The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  4,241 ratings  ·  233 reviews
The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the epic story of the Norse hero, Sigurd, the dragon-slayer, the revenge of his wife, Gudrún, and the Fall of the Niflungs.

"Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version, now published for the first time, of the great legend of Northern antiquity, in two closely related poems...more
ebook, 100 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2009)
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When I was seven years old, I went with my mother to her eye appointment. While we were waiting for her to be called, she started reading The Fellowship of the Ring to me. We got two chapters in before the appointment. Afterwards, she couldn’t read because of the eye drops, so I got tired of waiting and started to read it myself. This explains my absolute love for Tolkien, among other things. It also explains my love for Norse mythology at a young age, even though I didn’t know the connection at...more
Ethan Gilsdorf

In ‘Legend’ poems, Tolkien the storyteller

By Ethan Gilsdorf, Boston Globe Correspondent | September 4, 2009

J.R.R. Tolkien is best known as the author of fantasy tales like “The Hobbit’’ and “The Lord of the Rings.’’ But some may not know that he was an academic first and writer second. The reclusive British scholar, lexicographer, and Oxford don was, in a way, the original geek. He specialized in the rather arcane field of philology (the history of languages), and pored over Anglo-Sax...more
Alan Smith
It is with a feeling of disquiet that I write anything bad about John Ronald Rouel Tolkien - After all, in "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" he has given me - and millions of others - reading pleasure to last a lifetime. These two alone would be enough to mark him as one of the greats, and when you add in "Smith of wootton Major", "Farmer Giles of Ham" (a genuinely funny work), and "Leaf by Niggle" I can't help putting him in that rare pantheon of the real, true greats.

However, "The Legen...more
Tolkien's scholarship is always pretty impressive, even if it's out of date, now. Reading the bits of his lectures pieced together by his son is very interesting, and I rather wish I could attend them. (If I could be a member of Connie Willis' time travelling department of historians, I'd go visit Tolkien if I could.)

It's also amazing how much work he did on keeping the metre and language of Old Norse in a modern English version of the stories. The verse itself is probably the main attraction fo...more
One of the best-known heroes in Norse mythology, Sigurd is better known as Siegfried from German versions of the legends, and his exploits and interactions – from killing a dragon and re-forging a mighty sword, say, to his relationships with his wife Gudrún, with warrior princess Brynhild and with a host of other personages – characterise him as much as they echo the exploits and interactions of other heroes in other times and cultures. Here Tolkien attempts a harmonisation of the various early...more
I was informed that I could read just the poetry and still consider this book fully read, so that is what I did! I am making a point to go back and read the commentaries though in between other books. What can I say except that this was another fascinating and new look into Tolkien's artistry and writing. Being highly interested in Norse myth and legend myself it was exciting to read something so different. The style takes a bit of getting used to, but the second half, specifically Gudrun's fin...more
Beaulah Pragg
Reading the Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, one starts to get a feel for where Tolkien was coming from when he wrote the Lord of the Rings. Told in the style of a very old English epic poem, Tolkien has rewritten the ancient Norse Classics from the Elder Edda into two distinct stories, the Lay of the Volsungs and the Lay of Gudrun.

Many of the characters are easily recognizable by those possessing some familiarity with general Norse mythology (or anyone why has played Age of Mythology recently) - Lo...more
Though I have great respect for Tolkien's works in general, I have never been a fan of his poetry. I won't say that this made me one, but it was surprisingly good.

Part of that is perhaps due to the unforgiving form Tolkien strove to emulate - a concise alliterative verse that aimed at sudden 'flashes' of vision rather than sustained reflection. There are relatively few aspects of these poems that would remind one of anything found in 'Lord of the Rings'; the neo-Romantic gentility normally asso...more
3.5 to 4 star book

This was, as a volume, a curious mix of prose and poetry which covers the Norse legends which inspired Tolkien's Middle Earth. In short The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is Tolkien's version of those myths in poetic form.

I didn't personally find the story of this legend particularly gripping or exciting. However it was astounding to read this from the perspective of observing the sources that fueled Tolkien's own creativity. And having a personal fondness for mythology and in pa...more
What a treat it is to find yet more from the pen of Tolkien. That there has continued to be a frequent publication of new works throughout the decades following his death is a testament to the Professor's vast literary output and imagination; that he wrote lengthy works such as this one, which could simply never have been published if not for the sucess of "The Lord of the Rings," is of course a testament to Tolkien as a poet and a storyteller. Something like this is only written because the aut...more
Christopher H.
As soon as I found this hardbound edition in the bookstore, I snapped it up. This 350-page book contains J.R.R. Tolkien's interpretation of the two ancient epic poems from the Poetic Edda of the Icelandic peoples. Tolkien's son, Christopher has compiled and edited his father's work on the "Lay of the Volsungs" and the "Lay of Gudrun." This is earthy and spare poetry; rich in story and tradition; and provides a tangible connection to our ancestors and their mythology more than a thousand years ag...more
So, I may have given this four stars, but it's Tolkien and I'm biased. It's a glorious, dramatic poem based on the Norse legend, and while I prefer prose to poetry, I found it fairly easy to read all things considered. I did have a bit of trouble following all the details, but that never bothered me very much.

Christopher Tolkien's notes are very informative, though sometimes beyond my knowledge of poetic structure, linguistics and ancient history. They do give a better overall understanding of t...more
Judyta Szaciłło
A very interesting collection of Tolkien's notes on the Volsunga Saga plus Tolkien's own version of the story of Sigurd, Gudrun et al., written in eddaic alliterative verse. Christopher Tolkien's commentary successfully brings all random bits and pieces together, and the verse is amazing, but so rhythmical that it was difficult to focus on the story at times! It goes much better when read aloud, but I did not have the patience ;-)
Andrew Higgins
Pure Tolkien classic. Excellent example of Tom Shippey's idea of "writing into the gap"
J.R.R. Tolkien's interpretation of two ancient epic poems, the "Lay of the Volsungs" and the "Lay of Gudrun," from the Poetic Edda of the Icelandic peoples in maybe the 13th century. Tolkien's son Christopher compiled and edited his father's work on them, and presents the finished volume as some kind of crazy combination of mind-crushingly detailed Norse poetics primer and loosey-goosey fantasy passion project. It's hard to know what you're reading.

The preface is pretty cool occasionally, as whe...more
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is an eminent addition to J.R.R. Tolkien’s preeminent body of work. Here we have two marvelous tales from Norse mythology, the Lay of the Völsungs and the Lay of Gudrún, retold by a renowned philologist. These are no mere translations; indeed translation is not possible when the extant sources are piecemeal variants and prose summaries. Tolkien painstakingly recreated these tremendous poems much like Regin reforged Gram, the sword Sigurd used to slay the dragon Fá...more
Any time a new book appears with J.R.R. Tolkien's name on it, it's bound to stir up interest and this should be no exception. Unlike much of his writing, however, this particular book is not directly related to Middle Earth and its hobbits, wizards, and elves. It's born of earlier interests of Tolkien's that predate The Hobbit, namely Old Norse mythology, literature, and language. The fascinating thing that most people don't know, is that language was Tolkien's foremost passion during his life a...more
Jul 07, 2009 Carl is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't get the expensive version shown here (had no idea they'd made one like that-- kinda funny), but I did get a hardcover version. Only learned about this book recently-- can't remember if it was from a friend's facebook note or from Shippey's excellent review in the Times Literary Supplement, but the latter certainly got me interested. I was a bit frustrated with the last posthumous Tolkien publication, Children of Hurin-- I think I'd already read the story too many times, and then having...more
Jkimballcook Cook
A bloody story (or collection of stories), but a good one. Tolkien's verse is not a true word-for-word translation of the sagas, but it depends on them so heavily that neither is it a truly original composition. This work is a re-telling of the legends, but is also an effort to capture the spirit and essence of the sagas in a new tongue. The alliterative verse takes a bit to get into if your not used to that kind of thing, but once you get into the rhythms of the verse, the bold images really co...more
Doug Schwer
I really enjoyed this book. It centers around two poems written by JRR Tolkien: the Lay of the Völsungs, and the Lay of Gudrún. Both poems are based on old-Norse heroic legends, and follow the meter and style of old-Norse poetry. The poems are not terribly long, and are very readable. There is a substantial amount of commentary after both poems, written some by JRR Tolkien but mostly by Christopher Tolkien, that summarizes the poems more clearly, as well as discussing their relation to the origi...more
Very impressive. After having read a good portion of Christopher Tolkien's other "History of My Father's Work," this book felt like home. Tolkien's poetry was different than I expected, and though I understand that he was going for a particular form, I wish he had gotten into the story a bit more deeply. It was interesting to see him almost holding himself back. The appendices are fun, if a little unorganized.

In the end, I think I liked this because I study the Sigurd and Gudrun stories and bec...more
Okay, reader of high fantasy, consider this conundrum. You like reading about medieval and ancient royals stabbing each other over broken marriage vows, killing one another in blood vendettas, and selling girls into marriage/slavery in exchange for fealty and tribute, but each successive volume of A Song of Ice and Fire insults your intelligence a little more than the one before it, going all the way back to the first volume (which was on thin ice anyway because of the ice zombies)...

What to do?...more
Легенда за Сигурд и Гудрун:

"Легенда за Сигурд и Гудрун" е написана в периода на 20-те и 30-те години на XX век - двайсет години преди Толкин да завърши трилогията си за Властелинът на пръстените. Книгата представлява поетична интерпретация за северните разкази за вьолсунга Сигурд и падението на нибелунгите. Първата поема се нарича „Сага за вьолсунгите” и съдържа 339 стиха по 8 реда и разказва за великия герой Сигурд (познат на други места като , който пос...more
This book was really good. Tolkien's command of the Old Icelandic form is impressive; you are really drawn in by the sound and shortness of the action. It "hits you in the eye" as the original Old Icelandic verse is described to do in the introduction. The meter is fascinating; I have encountered Old English/Old Norse half-lines before, but the full explanation given at the beginning of this book really shows the way they work to create their effects. My one issue is that in a few places things...more
The 4 stars is for the actual poetry bits. It sounds well to my ears when spoken. I have a great love for both the sound of alliteration and the joining of ideas/thoughts that alliteration accomplishes in verse and J.R.R. Tolkien does it well.

I found the commentary kind of dry and it took me a bit to realize I had to just forget my knowledge of Norse literature from my readings related to Richard Wagner's opera. The incongruencies took some time to get my head around. It is interesting to me th...more
Clara Mazzi
Un grandissimo libro per un grandissimo autore e un grandissimo studioso. Ammirata e incantata dal lavoro di Tolkien che riscrive questi due antichi lai, colmando le lacune apportate dalla storia (incendi e perdite di manoscritti) in maniera colta, raffinata, attenta e con infinita sensibilità artistica. Mi ha affascinato la sua ricerca filologica e letteraria che lui poi rielabora e di come lui abbia colto il fatto che si tratti di un testo dal linguaggio apparentemente semplice ma che sceglie...more
"Of old was an Age,
When was emptiness,
There was sand nor sea,
Not surging waves;
Unwrought was Earth, unroofed was Heaven -
An abyss yawning
and no blade of grass."

That's the opening stanza to Tolkien's reworking of the myths of Volsungs and Niflungs that make up much of the Poetic Edda. He writes in the ancient Norse meter that is found in most Eddaic poems and weaves a stronger narrative through-line into the legends of Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer and his kin. In this telling Sigurd is "the World's...more
I've never had an appreciation for poetry but this was truly interesting reading material. It's fascinating to discover the source lore that Tolkien used to inspire his novels of fantasy. Here the reader is introduced to the idea of "Myrkviðr" of Germanic mythology, which basically translates to "mirky woods", "dark woods" or "dark forest". A name that will eventually be synonymous with the Silvan Elves' from the Lord of the Rings trilogy; it is the forest home where the character Legolas Greenl...more
This is a very readable translation of the Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun. I find that a knowledge of medieval and Norse history helps you to understand the Eddas; Also that an understanding of the Eddas gives you a wider appreciation of The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s work. Appendix A, by his son Christopher was particularly beneficial in understanding the background of the work.

All that said, I much preferred the Carolyn Larrington translation I read last year. I found that Tolkien trying t...more
Chris Griffith
I'm not sure I understood a word of it but the whole thing was beautiful and wild!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
  • The History Of Middle Earth Index
  • The Road to Middle-Earth: How J.R.R. Tolkien Created A New Mythology
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo
  • The Poetic Edda
  • Master of Middle-Earth: The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator
  • Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • The Kalevala
  • Tolkien's Ring
  • The Prose Edda
  • A Gateway to Sindarin: A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
  • The Complete Tolkien Companion
  • The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
  • Meditations on Middle Earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE, was an English writer, poet,WWI veteran (British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English language and literature from 1945 to 1959. He was a cl...more
More about J.R.R. Tolkien...
The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe) The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3) The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2) The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

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“Faith then they vowed
Fast, unyielding,
There each to each
In oaths binding.
Bliss there was born
When Brynhild woke;
Yet fate is strong
To find its end.”
“Gömülü hazine arama ya da korsanlarla savaşma arzusu duymuyordum, bu yüzden Hazine Adası beni pek açmadı. Kızılderililer daha iyiydi: Bu tür hikayelerde oklar ve yaylar (iyi bir okçu olma konusunda tatmin edilememiş bir arzuyu o zaman da duyuyordum, şimdi de duyuyorum), yabancı diller, arkaik bir yaşam tarzına dair tasvirler ve, her şeyden öte, ormanlar vardı. Ama Merlin ile Arthur'un diyarı bunlardan daha iyiydi. En iyisi de Sigurd ile Völsungların isimsiz Kuzey'i ve tüm ejderhaların prensiydi. Bu tür diyarlar hepsinden daha cazipti."/'I had very little desire to look for buried treasure or fight pirates, and Treasure Island left me cool. Red Indians were better: there were bows and arrows (I had and have a wholly unsatisfied desire to shoot well with a bow), and strange languages, and glimpses of an archaic mode of life, and above all, forests in such stories. But the land of Merlin and Arthur were better than these, and best of all the nameless North of Sigurd and the Volsungs, and the prince of all dragons. Such lands were pre-eminently desirable. ” 3 likes
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