Old Norse position in Bergen

A rare opportunity to apply for a job teaching Old Norse philology at one of the truly great centres of the discipline, the University of Bergen, has been advertised on jobbnorge.no. If you have some Norwegian or are prepared to learn it, take a look at the particulars and consider applying. The successful person will be filling Else Mundal’s shoes after her retirement at the end of 2012–jobs like this one don’t come along very often!

The Eddas of 2011

Continuing our round-up of this year’s new books: these will probably be old, old news to many of you, but surely two of the most significant publications of 2011 are both long-awaited new Poetic Eddas.

1. The Orchard Edda

First, there is the new Penguin Classics translation by Professor Lord Andy Orchard, who now is mainly famous for running Canada. Andy’s translation of the ‘Elder’ Edda was forthcoming and allegedly pretty much finished when I first met him in 1996, so it’s fair to say that the gestation period on this one has been long. And naturally, it’s well worth the wait. I’ve always been happy recommending Carolyne Larrington’s OUP translation, whose merits more than outweigh the faults that some people have perceived in it; but Orchard’s may pip it for useability, simply because its notes and explanatory material are much more copious than in the Larrington.

As anybody who’s heard a conference paper by Andy over the years will not be terribly surprised to hear, the most notable feature of the translation is a predilection for alliteration, although this never becomes overweening. Some will dislike the translation of proper-names, which is always a fraught process, but overall I find Orchard’s version fluent, accurate and idiomatic without resorting to archaism. The only real problem, I have with it, in fact, is its subtitle–‘A Book of Viking Lore’, with every word of which one could take issue, but I can’t really be bothered here and now. Unfortunately, this terminology is used inside the book as well.

So, I certainly am happier with this translation than some people have been. (I don’t really approve of anonymous/pseudonymous reviews, but the commenter raises some valid points.) There’s another early notice of the book on Carl Olsen’s blog, which I’m ashamed to say I’ve only just discovered.

I shall be adding it to the reading lists, happy in the knowledge that the translation is as good as is available, and the notes are extremely useful. I guess no translation will ever satisfy every reader; that’s why we should all translate the Edda for ourselves!

2. Dronke Part III

The second of this year’s new Eddas is the third part of Ursula Dronke’s monumental edition for Oxford University Press. Paratextually, volume three conforms to the standards set by its two predecessors (lest we forget, volume one came out in 1969 and two in 1997: I hope she’s not rushed over this one!), in that it has the distinctive salmon-pink cover and it is exceptionally expensive.

Volume III of Dronke’s Edda is the second of the mythological selections: it comprises HávamálHymiskviðaGrímnismál, and Gróttasöngr. I must confess that I’ve yet to see this book in the flesh, but I’m sure it will contain all of Dr Dronke’s remarkable erudition and her often peerless flashes of insight. Sometimes her readings can be a little adventurous for my timid taste, which makes me chary of using her translation. But alongside the exceptionally valuable commentary that she provides, the singular advantage of the Dronke edition is that has a parallel-text format, so the reader can compare original with the translation with ease.

Has anybody out there seen the Dronke already? Or do you have any thoughts about the Orchard?

A thriving publishing season, Norns and Goddesses

As I started to gather together information about recent publications in medieval Scandinavia, from material people have kindly sent me and from trawling through Amazon’s catalogue, it became clear that 2011 has seen a really impressive number of relevant and interesting books published. I’m going to try to run through as many of these as I can over the next couple of weeks. As ever, if you see something that catches your eye, buying it from Amazon through the link on this site will pay me a tiny commission that I put towards server costs. Don’t forget to recommend these to your local library, too: not all of them are as reasonably priced as Myths of the Pagan North (which I’ll now shut up about). Having said that, our first two titles are both relatively friendly on the pocket. They also feature, in different but I imagine complimentary ways, mythological women.  Read more »

The return of Old Norse News

Where does the time go? I certainly hadn’t been planning on taking most of the year off from Old Norse News, but it seems to have happened that way. Thanks to everybody who has continued to send me stuff for the site, and sincere apologies if I’ve missed out some time sensitive material. I naturally have something of a backlog of book announcements to get through, but I’m feeling refreshed and energized after my break and will start catching up fairly quickly.


Myths of the Pagan North

If you’ll excuse the shameless self-promotion… I’m very pleased to announce that my new book, Myths of the Pagan North: the gods of the Norsemen (and, in response to queries: yes, the publishers had a hand in the title) will be out later this week. Read more »

The Dictionary of Old Norse Prose

It seems as though we’re unlikely to see any further printed volumes of the Dictionary of Old Norse Prose in the foreseeable future, which is a great shame. But to make us feel a bit better about the situation, the Dictionary has redesigned its website with a host of new features. This is what they say in their recent press release:

In the course of 2010 major changes to ONP’s website have been undertaken:

As of June 2010 all of the dictionary’s unedited slips/citations (en – ǫ) with revised references are presented via ONP’s homepage, linked to graphic images of the text pages from which the quotations are excerpted. The previously published articles (ONP vols 1-3, a – em) as well as the volume of indices (Registre // Indices + updates) are also accessible in electronic form.

In November 2010 the first new structural presentation of verbs and prepositions was posted, and in the new year preliminary drafts of articles on simplex nouns together with a full treatment of ‘ghost words’ will also be available. Everything on this new site is open to comment and criticism via a direct postal link. It is hoped that distant users will contribute significantly with reactions and suggestions for future developments.

Note: these features seem only to be accessible by the Danish interface–the English pages haven’t been updated.

Two more books: Odin on the one hand, Sermons on the other

My attempt to get up to date with the backlog of recently published books continues. Slowly.

This time we have a study of contrasts: in the pagan corner, there’s Annette Lassen’s new book about Odin på kristent pergament; from the other end of the Old Norse spectrum, we have a (to me) very exciting collection of essays about the Norwegian Homily Book, Vår eldste bok, edited by Odd Einar Haugen and Åslaug Ommundsen.

Read more »

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