Synopses & Reviews
Legends from the Ancient North: Five classics of Norse literature that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien's epic vision in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Legendary fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien spent much of his life studying, translating, and teaching the ancient tales of northern Europe at Oxford and drew on them for his own writing. These epic stories, with their wizards and knights, dragons and trolls, cursed rings and magic swords, are as fascinating today as they were thousands of year ago. Reading them brings us as close as we will ever get to the magical worlds of the Vikings and the origins of their twentieth-century counterpart: Tolkiens Middle Earth.
In this collection of the earliest verse in English, heroic poems celebrate the courage, loyalty, and strength of the ancient world: in "The Battle of Maldon" a brave Anglo-Saxon army attempt to fend off a Viking invasion; "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer" reflect on exile, loss and destiny; and The Exeter Riddles are witty linguistic puzzles that directly influenced Golum's famous riddles in Tolkien's The Hobbit.
Anglo-Saxon poetry was produced between 700 and 1000 AD for an audience that delighted in technical accomplishment, and the durable works of Old English verse spring from the source of the English language.
Michael Alexander has translated the best of the Old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the "heroic poems" such asWidsith, Deor, BrunanburhandMaldon, and passages fromBeowulf; some of the famous 'riddles' from The Exeter Book; all the "elegies," includingThe Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's ComplaintandThe Husband's Message, in which thevirtuof Old English is found in its purest and most concentrated form; together with the great Christian poemThe Dream of the Rood.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust theseries to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-datetranslations by award-winning translators."
Michael Alexander has translated old English poetry into modern English and into a verse form that retains the qualities of Anglo-Saxon metre and alliteration. Included in this selection are the heroic poems such as "Wildsith", "Deor", "Brunanburn" and "Maldon" and passages from "Beowulf".
Includes bibliographical references (p. 146-148).
About the Author
Michael Alexander is the Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews. He has translated The Earliest English Poems, The Canterbury Tales: The First Fragment, and Beowulf for Penguin.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Translation
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the Third Edition
Bede's Death Song
Deor and Widsith
Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg
The Wanderer and the Seafarer
The Wife's Complaint, the Husband's Message and Wulf and Eadwacer
The Dream of the Rood
The Battle of Maldon
Map of the Site of the Battle of Maldon
A. The Runes
B. Suggested Solutions to the Riddles
C. Anglo-Saxon Metric
Glossary of Proper Names