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The Poetic Edda, translation by Carolyne Larrington, Oxford World’s Classics © 1996

Review by Jojo

For those who are unfamiliar with the Eddas (both the Poetic--also known as the Elder Edda or Saemund's Edda, and the Prose--or Younger, also Snorri’s Edda) they are collections of Icelandic myths, dated to circa 1250 CE and 1220 CE respectively. Yes, that’s right. “Elder” and “Younger” seem to be misnomers. (It is believed that the Prose Edda drew upon an earlier form of the Poetic Edda.)

Many English translations can be found, but I had heard Larrington’s being toute by the Ásatrú folks I know as being the most approachable and readable to one unfamiliar with the stories. It’s in plain English, very well foot-noted, and easy to read.

It was also a bit on the boring side, because it is sometimes *too* plain. Not having read other translations that strive to keep the poetics in place, I can’t say if this is because of the age in which this was put to paper, or if this was a result of Larrinton’s translating.

The edition had family trees of the gods and other creatures, as well as to the heroic families, which I found helpful.

Another thing I didn’t like was Larrington’s choice of rendering of some of the names, especially her choice with “j” becoming “i” in accordance with modern Icelandic pronouncation. Changing characters we don’t possess in our alphabet (ð to d, þ to th, etc.) in one thing, but we have j. Maybe it’s foolish, but seeing Freyja as Freyia, Njord as Niord, etc., distracted me a bit from the poems.

All in all, I thought this to be a good translation and a wonderful starting point. I enjoyed the mythic poems over the heroic ones, but even so, I am eager to move on to the Prose Edda and various sagas.

3 out of 5 amulets.


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