Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Books around the World: Iceland

Iceland, 1842: The Prose or Younger Edda, commonly ascribed to Snorri Sturluson, translated from the old Norse

This is a tale of the old gods and how the world was created. It talks about the relationships between the gods, how they interact with people, and what human things are named for them. The story explains why the gods have several names. Sometimes these gods do such mundane, human things, but at other times, they wield such power over the heavens and the earth.

It is told in a form of Early Modern English. The discussion of the creation of humanity ties into this story, with gods creating humans and heaven, the physical and the spiritual.

From trees and animals to why some men have good lives and others not, questions are answered through the lens of this old mythology. The hot and cold seasons are explained by the moods of the gods and their temperaments. Even love is discussed. We learn about “Valhall,” and one can almost picture Vikings fresh from battle celebrating with their gods. There is much discussion and description of eating and drinking games as well as fighting. And how do the gods of this mythology create earthquakes? These stories answer a lot of questions about existence for this culture. The words are very old and often hard to read, but one who is interested in Scandinavian history might like it, if not for its accuracy or science, then for insights into a past culture—their values.

Near the end there’s a section of Christianity. Then Roman gods come into play. Greeks other people and gods are discussed. These gods of different backgrounds and cultures are interlinked here.

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