by Snorri Sturluson,

Other authorsAnthony Faulkes
Paper Book, 1987



Call number

PT7313.E5 B96


London : Dent, 1987


The Prose Edda is the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, it tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. It also preserves the oral memory of heroes, warrior kings and queens. In clear prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda provides unparalleled insight into the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. These tales from the pagan era have proved to be among the most influential of all myths and legends, inspiring modern works as diverse as Wagner's Ring Cycle and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member fundevogel
The Edda is essentially a 13th century crash course in Norse mythology. At the time it was written Iceland was already Christian and the book's author penned an unintentionally humorous disclaimer in the prologue making sure everyone knew that he didn't believe any of this, that he was
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sophisticated enough to know the truth of Christianity, and he was just concerned about preserving these quaint beliefs for the their cultural and literary value. His sincerity made me giggle a little. I don't know, maybe the disclaimer was necessary back then, it's just so bizarre in a modern context.

Any who the intent of the book seems to be some what instructional. It collects various stories of godly hijinks, heroes and the monsters they face as well as shorter bits explaining little details of the world according to Norse mythology and the proper way to name things according to the traditions of skaldic poetry. That's why I call it instructional. Most of early Nordic literature is poetic and has very specific rules and symbolism. It can be tricky to understand the kennings and stories without a fair amount of background information so the Prose Edda is essentially intended to give people the background they need to understand and appreciate the literary tradition of skaldic poetry.

That said it doesn't really matter if you're reading the Edda with the intent to dig into skaldic poetry or not. The Prose Edda is the primary source of Norse mythology available to us today and Norse mythology is crazy. Like other mythological systems the purpose is to explain the world and give the history of the gods, but the Norse take just seems a little crazier and bloodier. I can't really go into the actual mythology without either going on way too long or short changing the stories, but suffice it to say that at one point Loki ties his testicles to a goat and engages in a tug of war with said goat.

On a side note, reading Norse mythology totally put me in the mood to revisit my neglected metal collection. Norse mythology is pretty metal.
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LibraryThing member Michael.Rimmer
I was initially surprised that I knew all of the stories in The Prose Edda, but then I realised that I've been reading adaptations of them since I was aged 10, so not all that surprising really.

It was good to read the stories in their original(English translated) versions. They were very
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approachable and immediate: I felt as I was reading them that they were being spoken to me directly. Possibly this was because I'm English and they form part of a tradition of story-telling that is part of my cultural heritage. I think I'll read the Popol Vuh next and see how that compares.
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LibraryThing member lidaskoteina
prior to reading notes in this vol I hadn't realized that some of the "mythical" material reflects actual people/events with independent attestations (Atli=Attila etc)
utterly fascinating
LibraryThing member krisiti
The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) (Penguin Classics) by Snorri Sturluson (2006)
LibraryThing member isabelx
Then Gangleri asked: 'Why is there such a difference between hot summer and cool winter?'
High One said: 'A well-informed man would not ask this. Everyone knows why. However, if you are the only person so ill-informed as never to have heard, I'll admit that it is better for you to ask once in your
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foolishness than to go on any longer in ignorance of what you ought to know.

A translation of the narrative sections of The Prose Edda, which contain various stories about the Norse gods and heroes. In "The Deluding of Gylfi", the Swedish King Gylfi (disguised as a traveller called Gangleri) talks with three beings calling themselves High, Just-as-High and Third, all three of which names are included in the list of Odin's names given by him to King Geirrod. In the second part "Selections from Poetic Diction", a man called Aegir visits the Aesir in Asgard. During dinner he sits with Bragi the god of poetry, who tells him stories about the doings of the gods.
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LibraryThing member laeviss
A must-read for anyone interested in Asatru or Heathenry.
LibraryThing member paperloverevolution
I've been told that most editions of The Edda of Snorri Sturluson (say it out loud, you'll love it) do not contain the 'Skaldskaparmal'. I thought this was the best part, and recommend that you find a copy with it included. It's basically a glossary of poetic terms and forms, breaking down the
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formal riddle-language into easily comprehensible parts. If you've ever found yourself overwhelmed by the kennings in an Icelandic epic (and who hasn't?), this book will straighten you right out.

Seriously, amazingly helpful for any study of the northern myths and epics. Very readable, as well.
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LibraryThing member JVioland
Norse sagas written in Iceland around 1210 by Snorri Sturluson (I couldn't possibly have made up that name!). It records histories and traditions of the Norse people. Some material is gruesome, but then we're dealing with a people who hoped to die in battle!
LibraryThing member mattries37315
The Norse mythology that has come down to us, is primarily thanks to one Icelandic scholar and politician. The Prose Edda is Snorri Sturluson’s attempt to compile the myths of the Northern world and save the knowledge of how skaldic poetry is composed.

The book is essentially divided into two
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parts, the first is strictly concerned with mythology and the second is a mix of mythology and learning the rules of skaldic poetry. While Snorri follows the examples of Virgil and Geoffrey of Monmouth of connecting the Norse gods to originally being refugees of Troy that uncivilized tribes were awed by and made into gods, his prose retelling of the Norse myths seen in The Poetic Edda is not only exceptionally good but was most well-known versions for centuries. In fact, Snorri includes more myths than what appears in The Prose Edda including more that relate to Loki and Sif and others. The second half which features Snorri telling the rules of skaldic poetry by using mythic and saga verses is an easy, quick read that those not really interested will not find daunting in finishing the book but adds to the overall knowledge of skaldic tradition if one reads The Poetic Edda after Snorri’s book.

Unlike The Poetic Edda in which readers are not really sure how much Christianization has leaked into the versions written in, the reader knows from the beginning that Snorri is threading the edge of being a Christian and attempting to preserve his cultures pagan heritage. Brodeur’s translation not only reads well with occasional footnotes when giving meanings to words, but the spellings that the 21st Century reader knows of the various god’s names are the same.

The Prose Edda is the primary source of the vast majority of what we know today of Norse mythology and that alone recommends this book to those interested in mythology of any type.
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LibraryThing member forsanolim
The Prose Edda is a collection of Norse legends and writings compiled by Snorri Sturluson (and at least some definitely written by him) in the 1200s. I don't know a ton about Norse mythology so did find this interesting - it was nice to finally "really" figure out how all of the pieces that I've
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heard about at various times, from Valhalla to Thor's hammer to Ragnarok to Yggdrasil, all fit together. As one would expect from what is essentially a compilation of myths (also featuring all of the different names of the different gods), it's not the most compelling read, and I found it hard to keep track of which giant did what in which story, but I definitely came out of this knowing more about Norse myths than I did when I started it.

It would have been useful for me to know in advance that the translation/edition that you pick to read may have huge repercussions for your enjoyment of the book, since there are some sections of the Prose Edda (the really dry ones on the composition of poetry) that aren't included in all editions. I first tried to read a non-abridged edition and found it to be a total slog, but eventually I switched to the Penguin edition (the Jesse Byock translation) and found it much more enjoyable.
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Original language


Original publication date

1220 (c.)

Physical description

xxvi, 260 p.; 20 cm


0460876163 / 9780460876162


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