(K. Brent Tomer),
Norse Mythology. By Neil Gaiman. Norton; 293 pages; $25.95. Bloomsbury; £20.
The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes By Carolyne Larrington. Thames and Hudson; 208 pages; $24.95 and £12.95.
IN 1876 William Morris published his epic poem about Sigurd the Volsung, and Richard Wagner put on his first “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth. Norse mythology has long been a staple of Western culture. “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” drew heavily on Norse literature. Marvel introduced Thor and Loki to American comic-book readers in the middle of the 20th century. “Game of Thrones”, a television phenomenon, owes a debt of gratitude to Norse culture, as do any number of computer games. Though each approaches the myths in a different way, one thing they have in common is length: Morris’s poem is more than 10,000 lines long, the “Ring” cycle runs for some 15 hours and the original manuscript for “The Lord of the Rings” covered more than 9,000 pages.
Two new books on Norse mythology are mercifully short, however, running to just over 500 pages…Continue reading