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The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  6,587 ratings  ·  306 reviews
Compiled by an unknown scribe in Iceland around 1270, and based on sources dating back centuries earlier, these mythological and heroic poems tell of gods and mortals from an ancient era: the giant-slaying Thor, the doomed Völsung family, the Hel-ride of Brynhild and the cruelty of Atli the Hun. Eclectic, incomplete and fragmented, these verses nevertheless retain their ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 7th 2011 by Penguin Classics
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Hailey The poems Norse mythology is based upon. One of the two surviving texts from that time period we have to go off of. The other is the Prose Edda.…moreThe poems Norse mythology is based upon. One of the two surviving texts from that time period we have to go off of. The other is the Prose Edda. (less)
Trevor These are poems about the Norse gods. It includes prophecies and sayings by the Norse gods as well as stories about them. It also includes some poems…moreThese are poems about the Norse gods. It includes prophecies and sayings by the Norse gods as well as stories about them. It also includes some poems about Norse heroes and their adventures.

It's probably not the best choice if you're looking to learn about vikings but is fantastic if you're interested in Norse mythology.(less)

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Wood Wroth
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
PLEASE NOTE: Due to poor organization of translations on this website, I must note that this is a review of Andy Orchard's translation of the "Poetic Edda", which he has titled "The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore".

Being familiar with Andy Orchard's handbook on Norse mythology ("Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend", 1997) and finding it to be a nice middle ground between Rudolf Simek's deeply flawed handbook and the limited scope of John Lindow's own, it was with high hopes that I waited for
João Fernandes

What I love the most about Norse literature and mythology is that the gods are all incredibly... for the lack of a better word, human. They suffer, they lust, they love, and they even seem to be quite mortal as far as gods go.

The Elder (or Poetic) Edda is a collection of 'poems' found in an ancient manuscript in Iceland, the Codex Regius.

The Elder Edda has a mythological section, with poems about the gods and the start and end of the world (the famous Ragnarok), and a heroic section.

I was
"Wits are needful for someone who travels widely,
anything will do at home;
he becomes a laughing-stock, the man who knows nothing
and sits among the wise."

- Hávamál

Arguably the greatest mythological masterpiece human civilisation has achieved, in my mind. But I'm biased for a variety of reasons; from being from the north, from researching its history and culture every day as a profession and from this being the main inspiration for my favourite literary author J. R. R. Tolkien.

I'll do a more
famous for being one of the earliest plagiarisms of professor Tolkien's LotR.
May 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: native speakers of Anglo-Saxon, etins
The introduction states that the Edda is "a repository, in poetic form" of mythology and heroic lore "bodying forth both the ethical views and the cultural life of the North during the late heathen and early Christian times." It is also, for the most part, boring as fuck. It may be an interesting read if you are a fan of English before it got corrupted by all those French and Latin borrowings, or don't mind stopping several times a page to find out the meaning of an obscure or terribly archaic ...more
Roman Clodia
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Then Brynhild laughed - all the hall resounded - / just one time with all her heart: / 'Well may you enjoy the lands and followers / now you've brought the brave prince to his death'

Collected in the 13th century in the Codex Regius, the body of poetry here straddles Old Norse myth and heroic poetry from probably around the 10th century, a time when the pagan North was becoming Christianised. The heroic verse is primarily from the complicated tales of Helgi, Sigurd, Gunnar and the valkyrie
John Snow
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Poetic Edda is not a book you read from beginning to end like a novel. The Poetic Edda contains 35 poems, some of which are very complicated. I usually read and study one or a few poems at a time, put the book aside, and then get back to it later. But the more times I read the poems, the more I appreciate their poetic qualities and the glimpses they give into the deep mysteries and wisdom of Norse mythology.

Together with The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, The Poetic Edda is the best
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It turns out that I have a real thing for Scandinavian literature. Reading this and the sagas has made me a little obsessed with the idea of visiting Iceland. It’s hard for me to separate my thoughts on the eddas from my thoughts on the sagas and the most recent Sigrid Undset novel I’m reading, but I’m going to try to keep everything to it’s proper review space.

Alright. The Elder Edda (or Poetic Edda) is the written version of the oral-tradition base material from which the later Younger/Prose
Kate Elliott
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Translations like this are what saves ancient literature otherwise doomed to death by obscurity. Dr. Crawford brings the Poetic Edda to life in a clever way that is easily accessible to all readers, without dumbing it down. Translations of the Edda have a high barrier to entry--they have to presuppose knowledge that casual readers generally neither have nor want, and the language tends to be difficult. This translation beautifully strikes that knife's edge balance between modernization and ...more
Jason Donoghue
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been so long since I read this book, I need to reread it to give it another review.
Biblio Curious
The first few poems were absolutely amazing & packed with allusions to mythological stories or lines of wisdom. The rest of the poems are mostly unrelated to each other & perhaps are best read separately at your own leisure.

This Oxford Edition is rather clumsy because the poems themselves require so many notes to understand what they are referring to. I would have preferred footnotes instead because of how important these notes are for making these poems readable. About halfway through,
Daniel Morgen
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a trippy adventure, and there's a lot I want to say about it, but I'll start by saying that it was an incredible read for those with the patience to read ancient literature. And believe me, it takes a lot of patience; it is poetry from a dead language which often doesn't translate in a stirring way. However, after reading the Poetic Edda itself (not really the four additional poems they tack on to the end of this book), you walk away with a feeling about the inescapability of fate. Many ...more
Cymru Roberts
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-ancients
The gods of antiquity are our super heroes of today. Marvel has transformed most of the Norse gods into comic book characters, for better or for worse I don't know. I am inspired by the tales of glorious gods and I was interested in any overlap that may occur between the Norse and Greek pantheons. This text met and exceeded my expectations, but contained many lays that would only appeal to a completist or college-level student of Norse mythology.

The lays are epic in scope, encompassing the
4.5 Stars

I read this during two different time periods, and had two different reactions.

I started it in the summer and felt it was interesting but also hard to hold the information of what was going on. When I came back to it in the fall, I was able to seep into it and truly love the stories. It was also extremely helpful to listen to a work like this because I often am unable to figure out how to pronounce the names. Audiobooks really help you out that way! I also loved that they included
Edoardo Albert
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The metres used by the skalds, the court poets of the Norse chieftains, were among the most complex and difficult metres ever used regularly by poets. As such, the success of a translation of the Elder Edda should maybe be best judged by how well it conveys the complexity of the original. Andy Orchard's version is vigorous and contemporary, doing a good job of conveying the meaning of the original verse without attempting much in the way of replicating their structure. This may be an inevitable ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I thought I would enjoy this more than I actually did. Luckily, I already knew about the legends in Norse mythology or I would have given up, I definitely prefer prose to poetry.
Lancelot Schaubert
Where else can you find a joint source for half of Tolkien's names and a good chunk of Marvel comics?

The Poetic Edda is the crux of Norse mythology and I won't presume to aspire to heavy or valued literary criticism here. I appeal as a lay reader to lay readers –you need to work your way through this book as you would any classic piece. You need this book as source material for your own stories, as enjoyment for life, and as a platform upon which to build an understanding of modern stories.

Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you consider the fact that pre-Christian Scandinavian cultures, at least the ones responsible for the stories written down in the Edda, believed the world was created from the dismembered body of a giant, then you begin to realize that it's not going to be a trip to Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

Even the gods are doomed, and when Odin, boss of the gods, is constantly trying to find secret wisdom to avert the prophesied battle that will kill the gods, you know you're screwed.

Not for the faint
Eric Tanafon
Not the best or the worst translation. Sometimes Hollander's focus on poetic considerations can be irritating, when it means he uses unnecessarily archaic diction or flat out substitutes a word that's very different than the actual translation (to his credit, he mentions doing this in a couple of instances, but that makes you wonder how many other times he did that and didn't bother footnoting it).

But, as Yogi Berra remarked in a slightly different context, even imperfect translations of the
The Voluspa is the first poem of the Edda. It tells of the birth of the world, the giants and the gods, a few things in their lives, and then Ragnarok. It is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and sad things I've ever read. The world is out to get you and everyone dies, that's what Norse mythology teaches us.

Note on the translation: I mostly read Carolyn Larrington's UNrevised translation. I had the great fortune of getting a copy of Ursula Dronke's Voluspa and it is superior in every way as
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If for no other reason, this translation is remarkable for its scrupulous adherence to English words of Germanic origin - I cannot recall a single instance of finding a Greek or Latin root. The language and meter are deliciously archaic, and give a feel for the grammatical richness which has now largely fallen away from our modern tongue.
Kirsty Cabot
Really interesting! But hard going... So many names and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and gods and names and more names and places. Hard to get your head around...

Better review to come!
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, if I read this book before Gaiman's Nordic Mythology, I would feel so much better.
It was really informative (especially all commentaties added by the translator) and the whole thing had it's old story charm. Definitely big 4,5 from me, maybe because I had to read it quickly and didn't sank much into the stories.
Rebecca Jane
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-poetry
3.5 stars.
George Fowles
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A historical gold mine of stories. This ended up more interesting than I anticipated. You have to take your time by looking at the notes, but once you have your head around whose who, the stories unravel themselves in true old Norse fashion. I especially enjoyed the Mythology poems and loved learning all about the gods. Only reason not a 5 star is because of the nature of the text as originating in manuscripts. Sections will be missing or seemed disconnected but that’s due to the material/oral ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is a massive read. I expected it to be, however not only has it exceeded expectations it has totally scrambled them as well as my original goals in reading this book.

This collection is indeed a treasure trove of mythic Norse verse, it does indeed give a lot of insight into mythology lore and culture just as the cover claims it will.

The translator, Hollander also gives us a truly astounding amount of scholarly information, footnotes and explanations without with a large amount of this prose
Mina Soare
The notes cover more of each page than the stanzas... and it's worth it.

I found out about this book by watching the Avengers, which led me to slash Avenger fanfiction, which mentioned the The Prose Edda and this... this splendid-story-great-poetry-albeit-translated-rich-vibrant-speech-not-to-mention-the-characters companion, as it were, the Poetic Edda. For the poem by poem (ye fifty of them) impressions, see the notes.

Considering the Thor, Odin and Loki of the movie had to have ingested
I read this knowing nothing about Norse mythology – or who Odin is – from these stories I’m guessing he’s the equivalent to Zeus / Jupiter in Greek / Roman mythology.

I thought this was a seriously tough read. I read it because it gets mentioned as Tolkien’s inspiration to write Lord of the Rings. What I found the most daunting was how many characters there are. I only recognised the dwarf names in The Hobbit, the rest were unfamiliar. And it would take me almost of the way to realise that the
Somer Canon
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is my understanding that this can sometimes be a difficult read, but Jackson Crawford does a very considerate job in carefully explaining things (every poem has a foreword). I'm a layperson. I don't know the first thing about Old Norse, but I enjoyed reading this. I even laughed at a couple of moments. Where a lot of the Poetic Edda tends to be tragic, there are some interactions between the gods in particular where they are hurling insults at each other and getting red-faced angry and you ...more
Big Al
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would never have anticipated that I could get so engrossed by old poems, but here we are. Sometimes the poems could be cryptic or boring, but it is totally worth a read for the high points, like the Seeress's Prophecy. This poem spans from the beginning of time all the way until the rebirth of the world following the cataclysmic Ragnarok. I seriously enjoyed my introduction to the strange Norse gods and the tragic humans who worshipped them.

"Do you want to know more, and what?"
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Into the Forest: The Poetic Edda Discussion 23 20 Jan 14, 2019 09:34AM  
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