English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History

Hardcover | August 17, 2014

byHeather ODonoghue

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English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History traces the influence of Old Norse myth - stories and poems about the familiar gods and goddesses of the pagan North, such as Odin, Thor, Baldr and Freyja - on poetry in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Especial care is taken todetermine the precise form in which these poets encountered the mythic material, so that the book traces a parallel history of the gradual dissemination of Old Norse mythic texts. Very many major poets were inspired by Old Norse myth. Some, for instance the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf, or much later, Sir Walter Scott, used Old Norse mythic references to lend dramatic colour and apparent authenticity to their presentation of a distant Northern past. Others, like Thomas Gray,or Matthew Arnold, adapted Old Norse mythological poems and stories in ways which both responded to and helped to form the literary tastes of their own times. Still others, such as William Blake, or David Jones, reworked and incorporated celebrated elements of Norse myth - valkyries weaving thefates of men, or the great World Tree Yggdrasill on which Odin sacrificed himself - as personal symbols in their own poetry. This book also considers less familiar literary figures, showing how a surprisingly large number of poets in English engaged in individual ways with Old Norse myth. English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History demonstrates how attitudes towards the pagan mythology of the north change over time, butreveals that poets have always recognized Old Norse myth as a vital part of the literary, political and historical legacy of the English-speaking world.

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English Poetry and Old Norse Myth: A History traces the influence of Old Norse myth - stories and poems about the familiar gods and goddesses of the pagan North, such as Odin, Thor, Baldr and Freyja - on poetry in English from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Especial care is taken todetermine the precise form in which these poet...

Heather O'Donoghue is Vigfusson Rausing reader in Old Icelandic Literature and Antiquities at the University of Oxford, and a Professorial Fellow of Linacre College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:August 17, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199562180

ISBN - 13:9780199562183

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPrologue: Earliest Contacts: Medieval poetry and Old Norse myth1. Antiquarians and Poets: seventeenth and eighteenth century discoveries of Old Norse myth2. Preromantic Responses: Gray, Blake and the northern sublime3. Parallel Romantics: the alternative Norse-influenced tradition4. Paganism and Christianism: Old Norse myth and nineteenth century religious thoughtEpilogue: New Images: Contemporary poetry and Old Norse myth