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Before "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" came this previously unpublished work by Tolkien, written during the 1920s and 1930s, that makes available the author''s extensive retelling in English narrative verse of the epic Norse tales of Sigurd the Volsung and The Fall of the Niflungs.
"[T]he poems showcase Tolkien's considerable gifts with language...."
"[S]crupulously edited.... A former lecturer in English at Oxford and editor of the many posthumously published volumes of his father's work, Christopher Tolkien brings a scholar's eye for nuance and interpretation to this dense yet fascinating volume."
"A warning to Tolkien fans: The Sigurd myth is a far darker and more primitive story than THE LORD OF THE RINGS (itself no happy tale). There is nothing in Sigurd's life suggestive of hobbits or Elves. And yet this tangled, ancient and powerful legend is the primary inspiration behind Tolkien's own literature.....This in itself makes THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRUN an important, valuable book, not just for those already steeped in Old Germanic stories and Old Germanic verse, or for those who wish to know them for the first time, but for all serious readers of Tolkien, students and fans alike."
"It is a handsomely produced volume, with fine decorations by Bill Sanderson, based on woodcarvings....The notes by Christopher Tolkien are invaluable, showing that in his eighties he has lost neither his academic rigour [sic] nor his rare ability to cut a clear path through a bafflingly complex tangle of ancient literary material."
From the Publisher
The Nordic legends of Sigurd (sometimes referred to as Siegfried) and Gudrun (known as Kriemhild in the Germanic epic poem THE SONG OF THE NIBELUNGS) are some of the prototypical tales of Western mythology, ones that have inspired countless retellings. A professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, the beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien had intimate familiarity with such classics of European mythology, and these ancient tales of warriors, gods, goddesses, adventure, and revenge surely inspired his wildly popular high fantasy books such as THE LORD OF THE RINGS (which, since its publication in the 1950s has attained a mythical status of its own). In this posthumously published work, Tolkien adopts the voice and meter of the ancient texts to retell Sigurd's and Gudrun's stories in verse. One of Tolkien's university lectures introduces this edition, which is edited by Tolkien's son Christopher.