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The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson

The Prose Edda

by Snorri Sturluson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,232184,363 (4.07)79
  1. 20
    Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: The Edda feels like the primary source material for Gaiman's retelling
  2. 00
    Popol Vuh by Dennis Tedlock (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Creation myths and pantheons
  3. 00
    Eirik The Red and Other Icelandic Sagas by Gwyn Jones (Michael.Rimmer)

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» See also 79 mentions

English (13)  French (3)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I had just finished reading the "Poetic Edda", so I decided to read the other one. Wasn't disappointed. It was a good deal shorter than I had expected, and kept the Volsung material to a minimum. ( )
  Sylvester_Olson | Jul 1, 2018 |
Norse sagas written in Iceland around 1210 by Snorri Sturluson (I couldn't possibly have made up that name!). It records histories and traditions of the Norse people. Some material is gruesome, but then we're dealing with a people who hoped to die in battle! ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
I was initially surprised that I knew all of the stories in The Prose Edda, but then I realised that I've been reading adaptations of them since I was aged 10, so not all that surprising really.

It was good to read the stories in their original (English translated) versions. They were very approachable and immediate: I felt as I was reading them that they were being spoken to me directly. Possibly this was because I'm English and they form part of a tradition of story-telling that is part of my cultural heritage. I think I'll read the Popol Vuh next and see how that compares. ( )
1 vote Michael.Rimmer | Apr 13, 2014 |
Six-word review: Authentic medieval masterwork exhausts reader's attention.

Extended review:

The book called "the prose Edda," by Snorri Sturluson, is a (or some might say the) seminal work of Western culture. Its author's story is told in Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths, by Nancy Marie Brown (reviewed here). Brown recommends this 1987 Everyman edition, translated from Old Icelandic by Anthony Faulkes, as her preferred version, so that's the one I chose.

Following a prologue, the text is divided into three parts: "Gylfaginning" (the tricking of Gylfi), "Skalskaparmal" (the language of poetry), and "Hattatal" (list of verse-forms). The first of the three contains the bulk of the stories that we know as the Norse myths. The other two are encyclopedic discourses on the art and craft of versification, compiled and composed by a virtuoso of Icelandic poetry; as Brown herself says in her account, "('The Tally of Verse-Forms' is) a flamboyant display that frankly is no fun to read."

After completing the first part, the main narrative portion of the work, I read some way into the inventory of kennings (called periphrasis in literature courses), a blend of metaphor and riddle (for example, calling the sea "ship's road" or "island-fetter" and battle a "clashing metal-shower") as far as I could stand to, and eventually ground to a halt. I skimmed from there, turning all the pages and noting that a goodly portion of the third section is rendered in Old Icelandic verse with prose translation. As Brown says, there's not much point in trying to recreate the musical and rhetorical effects of the original; it can't be done.

This book is a work for students and scholars and not for the lay reader. In the end I settled for reading the helpful text summaries at the back and gave myself credit for reading the book halfway through.

The annotated index is not only extensive and detailed but in some respects unorthodox, in that it contains new information not found in the text. It was here that I found an etymological expansion of the term "Ragnarok," as well as numerous other names and expressions. The index alone makes this work a useful resource for anyone who is going to give the ancient texts and their derivatives more than a casual look, but I would recommend turning elsewhere if you just want to read the stories.


My rating of five stars has no meaning. This work is in a class with the Bible and the Mahabharata; and how might I rate them? I am in no way qualified to judge it. Either five stars or an abstention is the only thing that makes any sense. Please note that in my ranking system, stars reflect an attempt to evaluate the goodness or worth of a work and don't necessarily signify whether I liked it. ( )
1 vote Meredy | Mar 27, 2014 |
I really enjoyed The Prose Edda. It's well-worth reading, and it sheds light on a surprising number of references in other media -- not just stuff like The Lord of the Rings, but also, for example, the names of monsters in the Shin Megami Tensei games. It's not really surprising, given what a wealth of mythology is contained in this book. I'm really looking forward to the lectures about it, and will probably write my essay on it, if the essay titles are good... It also makes me more enthusiastic (and I was already enthusiastic) about the idea of learning Old Norse next year.

The translation is clear and easy to understand. I realised that the translator is the same as for my copy of The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, Jesse Byock, and I recommend his translation work, definitely. Also, this edition comes with a good introduction and a lot of helpful notes. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Snorri Sturlusonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Anderson, Rasmus B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brodeur, Arthur GilchristTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byock, Jesse L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collinder, BjörnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faulkes, AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansson, Karl G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malm, MatsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Young, Jean IsobelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I wish to dedicate this volume to Franz Bäuml, Albert Lord,
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In the beginning, before the heaven and the earth and the sea were created, the great abyss Ginungagap was without form and void, and the spirit of Fimbultyr moved upon the face of the deep, until the ice-cold rivers, the Elivogs, flowing from Niflheim, came in contact with the dazzling flames from Muspelheim. This was before Chaos.

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Please do not combine with the Poetic Edda - a very different work
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140447555, Paperback)

Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, The Prose Edda is the source of most of what we know of Norse mythology. Its tales are peopled by giants, dwarves, and elves, superhuman heroes and indomitable warrior queens. Its gods live with the tragic knowledge of their own impending destruction in the cataclysmic battle of Ragnarok. Its time scale spans the eons from the world’s creation to its violent end. This robust new translation captures the magisterial sweep and startling psychological
complexity of the Old Icelandic original.

First time in Penguin Classics
Includes an introduction; explanatory notes; glossary; appendices on the Norse cosmos, language, and sources, a map; genealogical tables; suggestions for further reading

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:50 -0400)

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"The Prose Edda is the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, it tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. It also preserves the oral memory of heroes, warrior kings and queens. In clear prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda provides unparalleled insight into the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales from the pagan era have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring modern works as diverse as Wagner's Ring Cycle and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings." "This new translation by Jesse Byock captures the strength and subtlety of the original, while his introduction sets the tales fully in the context of Norse mythology. This edition also includes detailed notes and appendices."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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