247. The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (c.1220)

Alongside The Poetic Edda, this is one of the major sources of Norse mythology, covering the creation of the world from the bones and blood of the giant Ymir, the stories of Odin, Thor and Loki, and the world tree Yggdrasil.

My copy was the Penguin Black Classic, translated by Jesse Byock (9780140447552)

Thoughts : I knew very little Norse mythology beyond growing up reading and watching the Marvel Comics version of Thor. (In fact, one of the few niggles I had with the recent movies is the disrespect in which Thor is portrayed as a dimwitted braggart and drunkard, instead of the more dignified figure I had loved as a boy). However, reading the Edda gives a little more justification to the movie scriptwriters as Thor is admittedly not the sharpest javelin in Asgard, fooled by the shape-shifting Utgarda and seemingly just as fond of feasting and drinking as any self respecting Viking.

Ragnarok is the Norse version of the End of the World, which Odin with his prophesying ability describes to King Gangleri. This climax is not the end of all things but certainly Odin, Thor and many other Gods will meet their death against the posion-vomiting Midgard Serpent, the moon- swallowing Giant Wolf, and Loki leading the Frost Giants.

Tolkien fans will notice some familiar names in the list of dwarves : Dain, Thorin, Fili and Kili, Oin and Gloin, Dori, Nori and Ori, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur and, surprisingly, Gandalf.

Favourite quotes/scenes: The image of Thor being pulled through the sky in a chariot by two goats, and even better, the Goddess Freyja and her chariot drawn by two cats.

And of course there is the tug o’ war between a billy goat and Loki, with one end of the cord tied to the goat’s beard, and the other looped around Loki’s testicles.

“The goat and Loki started pulling back and forth, each squealing loudly until finally Loki fell into Skaldi’s lap”     (page 83)

Personal rating:  7/10

Kimmy’s rating: Goats and cats pulling chariots?? That’s dog’s work! Call my union!

Other reading:  I also read King Harald’s Saga, again by Snorri Sturluson. Harald was the King of the Danish force which landed on England’s north coast and forced King Harold to march north to defeat them, before marching immediately south again to face the Normans and William at Hastings. Harald gets little attention nowadays but he is portrayed here as an increasingly tyrannical ruler. A man of his times perhaps?

Digressions/diversions:   It feels like I have done very little reading and even less posting in August, and in truth I have been thinking more about other interests, most notably mammal watching (think birdwatching, but mammals … obviously). Snapped these pics in the last few days near home.






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