Andy Orchard

The Elder Edda
  • The Elder Edda

  • Part of a new series Legends from the Ancient North, The Elder Edda is one of the classic books that influenced JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

    'I was in the East, battling giants,
    wicked-hearted women, who wandered the fells;
    great would be the giant-race, if they all lived:
    mankind would be nothing under, middle-earth.
    What did you do meantime, Grey-beard?'

    J.R.R. Tolkien spent much of his life studying, translating and teaching the great epic stories of northern Europe, filled with heroes, dragons, trolls, dwarves and magic. He was hugely influential for his advocacy of Beowulf as a great work of literature and, even if he had never written The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, would be recognised today as a significant figure in the rediscovery of these extraordinary tales.

    Legends from the Ancient North brings together from Penguin Classics five of the key works behind Tolkien's fiction.They are startling, brutal, strange pieces of writing, with an elemental power brilliantly preserved in these translations.They plunge the reader into a world of treachery, quests, chivalry, trials of strength.They are the most ancient narratives that exist from northern Europe and bring us as near as we will ever get to the origins of the magical landscape of Middle-earth (Midgard) which Tolkien remade in the 20th century.

ANDY ORCHARD is Professor of English and Medieval Studies in the University of Toronto, and since 2007 Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. He is the author of The Poetic Art of Aldhelm (1994), Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the 'Beowulf'-Manuscript (2nd edition 2003), The Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (3rd edition 2002), and A Critical Companion to 'Beowulf' (2nd edition 2005), as well as editor and co-editor of several collections, scholarly journals and academic series.

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