The Saga of the Volsungs

The Saga of the Volsungs : The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer

Translated by Jesse L. Byock

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A trove of traditional lore, this Icelandic prose epic tells of love, jealousy, vengeance, war, and the mythic deeds of the dragonslayer, Sigurd the Volsung. The saga is of special interest to admirers of Richard Wagner, who drew heavily upon this Norse source in writing his Ring Cycle. With its magical ring acquired by the hero, and the sword to be reforged, the saga has also been a primary source for writers of fantasy such as J.R.R. Tolkien and romantics such as William Morris. Byock's comprehensive introduction explores the history, legends, and myths contained in the saga and traces the development of a narrative that reaches back to the period of the great folk migrations in Europe when the Roman Empire collapsed.

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  • Paperback | 154 pages
  • 137.16 x 203.2 x 12.7mm | 181.44g
  • 19 Nov 2001
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley
  • English
  • 2 maps
  • 0520232852
  • 9780520232853
  • 757,831

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Author Information

Jesse L. Byock is Professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Feud in the Icelandic Saga (1982) Medieval Iceland (1990), The Saga of King Kraki (1998), and Viking Age Iceland (2001).

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Review quote

"This is a book of the highest importance. No one should attempt to teach about Viking society or claim to understand it without being familiar with this chilling and enduring myth." - Eleanor Searle, Past President of the Medieval Academy of America "Byock extends the background to the saga beyond the interest of 'Wagnerites' to the complex relationship between history and legend in the Middle Ages and the social context of the myths and heroes of the saga.... [Byock is] very successful in his adept renderings of Eddic rhythm.... The translation of prose is equally fine." - Judy Quinn, Parergon"

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