Monday, January 25, 2010

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún by J.R.R. Tolkien (2009)

The other day I finished reading The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, by an author who truly needs no introduction, and of course edited by his son.

The idea which spurred Tolkien to write these poems was that he wanted to write poems in the traditional Norse eddic style in the English language, so he picked the most well-known Norse legend in which to write the poems. He is believed to have written it during the 1930s.

I'm not normally one for poetry. However, this particular style of poetry is very immediate, and focuses on alliteration rather than rhyme, something which makes it actually quite readable. (In other words, rhyme should be left to music or children's books. The story is also quite compelling, so it is understandable it had so much meaning to the Norse and other Germanic peoples who told the story.

The actual poems could be read in just a few hours. But Christopher Tolkien added extensive explanation and commentary to help the reader understand; the book could be read with or without the commentary.

In all, as far as the poetry goes, I'm no expert but I'll give that 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to anyone interested in Germanic mythology or heroic poetry, or to anyone who (like me) is a die-hard Tolkien fan.

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