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Ragnarok: The End of the Gods (2011)

by A. S. Byatt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7735522,224 (3.67)82
As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods -- a book of ancient Norse myths -- and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.
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» See also 82 mentions

English (54)  Finnish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
I had really high hopes for this book, but while it was interesting in a vague sort of way it fell quite short of being memorable. Byatt sets herself up with a dual storyline - contrasting the events of WWII with those leading up to the mythological Ragnarok, but her protagonist draws her parallels from the English countryside (where her family has been evacuated to) rather than from the global conflicts of the war. Clearly Byatt has drawn on her own experiences and the story is meant to be semi-autobiographical, but the lack of a real conflict in half of the story made the entire book fall flat. Not to mythologize (or romanticize) the horrors of WWII, but there was so much more that she could have drawn on to truely create a unique narrative which blended myth and reality. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
The physical book is very attractive, with a nice font and the page headings in a nice colour, nicely written and the size is nice and small - fits into the hand very nicely. BUT what's the point? There is no passion, no reaching out to the reader, no metaphorical bridges to cross, no ah ha moments. Once I found myself ticking off gods and stories I'd heard of and crossing off ones I hadn't, I skipped to the end and was bored by the last few pages. For my money - go and read Odd and the Frost Giants (Neil Gaiman, then find a book that tells the stories without just telling about the telling. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
It's no big surprise that, when asked to retell a myth, Byatt chose the Norse story of the great, destructive battle that marks the end of the gods, Ragnarök. From Possession onwards, she's often mentioned her early fascination with the Norse myths, sparked off by a book she was given as a child.

In this book, she looks at the myth through the eyes of this earlier version of herself, "the thin child," growing up in rural Yorkshire during the war, and using her reading of the myths to deal with her rational and irrational fears about the war going on around her and the long absence of her father on active service. She adds further value to the myth itself through grown-up critical insights into the thinking of the 19th century German scholars who compiled her edition of Asgard and the gods, through occasional sardonic bits of characterisation, and — inevitably — the insertion of a huge amount of zoological and botanical detail. And of course she doesn't want anything to do with any silly medieval idea of Ragnarök as the end of the pagan age and the prelude to a Christian rebirth: this Ragnarök is a very 21st century one, with the Midgard Serpent turning into a colossal metaphor for human destruction of the planet. ( )
  thorold | Dec 26, 2020 |
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A. S. Byatt was a really interesting read. It’s the story of a young girl during WWII who is given Asgard and the Gods by her mother to read. The Thin Child (as she’s called throughout the book) immerses herself into the book to escape the terrors of the war and her outlook on live is completely changed.

What I Liked

I really liked the whole book and the somewhat odd narrative. The entire book is told completely without out dialogue and inside the Thin Child’s head. I also really loved the mythology and the comparison between The Norse Myths and Christian Myths and how the Thin Child preferred the Norse because it was much more relate-able.

What I didn’t like

Sometimes it was confusing, one second the Thin Child is thinking about the war and the next second Loki is fornicating with a stallion, there was never a line between the Thin Child’s thoughts and the myths.

All in all I really liked this book and how uniquely it was written, it also sent me scrambling for a copy of Asgard and the Gods (which was free on my nook!) So I would give this a 4 1/2 out of 5.

Happy Readings ( )
  artdamnit_reads | Jul 29, 2020 |
Interessante viaggio nella mitologia nordica attraverso gli occhi di una bambina costretta a crescere troppo in fretta nei turbolenti anni della seconda guerra mondiale. Per gli amanti di Gaiman e della Harris. ( )
  WabisabiGio | Dec 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Ragnarök is een sympathiek boek (met een verhelderend nawoord), maar tegelijkertijd is het wat taai, omdat Byatt de mythen meer aandacht geeft dan de belevenissen van het kind. Al die mythische passages krijgen op den duur iets eentonigs, omdat ze worden verteld in plechtstatig, ronkend proza waarin clichés en bijvoeglijke naamwoorden niet worden geschuwd.
In dat geval mis je wel iets, want als je dit proza hardop aan jezelf voorleest, blijkt het opeens toch diepte en meeslependheid te bezitten. Geen wonder – die mythen waren bedoeld om te worden voorgedragen, niet om stilletjes in een hoekje te worden gelezen. De lezer die zijn schaamte overwint en zijn stem verheft, wint er een dimensie bij.
 
What she has made in this case – thanks to a rare fusion of imagination and intellect, sensual poetry and cerebral prose, youthful joy and elderly wisdom – is an entire world, compressed but energetically alive in all its details. When we have artists like this, who needs gods
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A. S. Byattprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schuurman, TitiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, HarrietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother, K.M. Drabble, who gave me Asgard and the Gods
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There was a thin child, who was three years old when the world war began.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods -- a book of ancient Norse myths -- and her inner and outer worlds are transformed.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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