Benjamin Thorpe's excellent translations of the ancient Nordic legends - the Elder Eddas - are a superb introduction to Norse folklore and its pantheon of Gods.
This collection is comprised of poetry from the Eddas, and begins with a historical narrative of the authorship of these verses. According to scholars, the elder Eddas were written by Sæmund, a well-travelled man from a wealthy Nordic family in the 11th century AD. The younger Eddas were written by Snorre Sturleson about a century later. Both encompass the folklore and Nordic Gods; at the time, the Christianization of Scandinavia had not occurred, and so many citizens retained beliefs in the old Gods of the Norse pantheon; Odin, Thor and Loki to name a few examples.
Thorpe's treatment of Scandinavian folklore is translated from the original Old Norse, and includes much of the famous poetry and stories. Beginning with the Voluspa, which narrates the Vala explorers and their journeys between guilds of Nordic society, we are immersed in the ancient customs and societal mores that underpin the Nordic folklore. In all, the Eddas offer readers an insightful window into Nordic society and storytelling as it was almost a thousand years ago.
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