Tuesday, December 18, 2012

News at Eleven: These days nearly everyone knows something

about the old Norse gods, about Valhalla and Ragnarok, about Odin and Thor and Loki. The basis for movies, comic books and videogames--as well as a source for writers like J.R.R. Tolkien--they seem omnipresent. Yet almost everything we know about the myths traces back to a single work, an Icelandic handbook called the "Prose Edda," which was intended primarily as a guide for aspiring story-singers, known as skalds. Nancy Brown believes that "the most influential writer of the Middle Ages" wasn't Chaucer, or Malory or the writers of Arthurian romances but the author of the "Edda," a politically powerful Icelander called Snorri Sturluson ("son of Sturla"), who died violently but ingloriously in 1241. She has a good case for saying so.

from The Wall Street Journal: The Poet King Of Iceland


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