The book has the riddle on one page and the explanation on the next, so when I was reading them I used to make sure I didn't look ahead until I'd solved it. Sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't. But it's more fun than a crossword puzzle. (And sometimes those ol'Anglo Saxons surprise you - wait till you get to the one about "I grow upright in a bed... hairs underneath..." I won't spoil it by telling you the answer!
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I could go on and on, but I might make it sound as though this collection is not worth reading in its own right - which is certainly not the case.
It took me a little while to get through this book, though I suspect that that had more to do with (a) the fact that I have not been in much of a "reading mood" in the last few weeks, and (b) that I am one of those crazy people that insists upon reading each and every footnote as it comes up, than it did with the intrinsic interest of the material within. In fact, I was pleasantly suprised at just HOW entertaining and humorous a lot of these myths are. I've always felt that a lot of the old myths and religious texts (including a lot of the biblical ones) were structured as much for maximum entertainment value as they were for spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. Crossley-Holland, as he states a few times in his notes, agrees, and retells many of the myths in a light, breezy style that perfectly suits their comical nature. I'm particularly thinking here of "The Lay of Thrym", the hilarious tale of Thor's hammer Mjollnir was stolen, and of how he got it back.
In conclusion, I can't really compare Crossley-Holland's retellings of these Norse myths with any others, because, well... I haven't read any others (outside of the odd Marvel comic or two). But it seems to me that if this topic is of interest to you, you could find a lot of worse places than here to start.
This book serves as an excellent introduction to Norse mythology. Most of the major stories are present. Holland retells the stories in the first part of the book, then provides insight into sources and other interpretations for each story in the back. His index, bibliography, and glossary are quite useful.
The myths are quite readable, suitable even for bedtime reading for older children. This book would make a great resource for a middle- or a high-school report. For those contemplating college level work, get direct translations of the Eddas and of Saxo Grammaticus. Even for college level work, Holland can serve as a roadmap to the primary sources.
Where Holland fails (and he fails miserably), is his failure to unwrap the Vanic from the Aesic traditions in the myths. Metzner has shown in The Well of Remembrance: Rediscovering the Earth Wisdom Myths of Northern Europe that the uncritical blending of these two traditions gives a different character to Norse mythology. In spite of this failing, however, Holland's book serves as a good introduction to the subject and primes the reader for more research, either directly into the Eddas, or for the work of Metzner and of H. Ellis Davidson.
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The Seeing Stone, Kevin Crossley~Holland, 0-439-43524-2
Having your wrist cut of for stealing doesn't seem fair. But for Arthur de Caldicot it is part of growing up in his country manor in England, 1199. This realistic fiction novel takes Arthur on an adventure as he tries to unlock his future, past, and present through a gift given to him by his dear friend Merlin.
The Seeing Stone was a roller coaster of emotions until the very end. Felling sympathy for the characters and also hate towards some. You can't be afraid of terrible things happening because this book is just like normal life. This book is also an extremely interesting book because the genre is realistic fiction. This genre seems to appeal to a lot of people because it allows you to use your imagination all the time. This story basically takes you on the ups and downs of the life of a family who lives on a manor and all their occupants. You won't want to put it down and you won't want to stop reading. While reading this book your understanding of how life was during the middle ages will increase but also the respect you had for people who lived during that time.
The Seeing Stone held my attention until the very last page but I wouldn't recommend it to people who don't really enjoy this genre because it would seem confusing at some points for them. It's also important to remember that life was very different for the characters of this book and they did undergo strong emotional a physical changes. The Seeing Stone is a thought provoking book and anyone who reads it should be proud of their newly acquired skill because this book was not that easy to understand at first. Most people will be drawn in quickly however, because it is really easy to connect with the main character and his life problems as a person in general. I personally loved this book and look forward to reading this sequel. The story is amazing, it holds you to the last page, and I can confidently say that Kevin Crossley~Holland is a terrific author.
by Kevin Crossley-Holland was one of the most amazing that I have ever read. Just recently I read the harry potter series and since then have been waiting for another series of its quality and detail to come out, and this book completely went up to and over the level that harry potter was written at. If you like history, adventure, or even love in an novel, do yoursel a favor and buy this book. You will be extremely happy with this purchase.
Each chapter - and they all beg to be read aloud - is almost a snap shot into Arthur's life - and the end of the 12th century. People and places have great reality. And, for both readers and listeners, the seeing-stone offers the delight of recognition as the world of Arthur-in-the-stone unfolds.
Somehow, I am reminded of both Rosemary Sutcliffe and Dylan Thomas; this is a book that will only be lent to people guarranteed to return it! And now to the second volume (which is already available in Australia).
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The only other translation of BEOWULF I'm familiar with is the Burton Raffel one which I've read three times and still prefer to Heaney's. However, not knowing Old English, I can't say which is more accurate. Raffel does try to preserve the structure of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse while Heaney, as he notes in his introduction, never feels compelled to strictly follow that form though he does quite a bit.
However, I suspect many readers may find that old verse form strange, awkward, and a bit offputting, and, for them, this version of the old epic is probably the best. I always found the last third of the epic the most moving and melancholy, and, there, Heaney's translation is as powerful as Raffel's.
The actually epic of Beowulf is a great knights tale that has been revived as a result of Tolkein's interest in the work. In my opinion it is the greatest epic ever written. While it is much shorter than say the Iliad, I certainly found it more entertaining. Beowulf's adventure's with Grendal and his mother(thank goodness none of our mother-in-laws were like this) can not be beat. Don't miss this enchanting tell.
I also highly recommend this book on tape read by Heaney. His Irish accent gives the story a dark ages feeling that really enhances the experience.
I've tried to do my own alliterative translations: Mr. Heaney's translation comes as a delight for a number of reasons. Chief among them is this: he's the best poet to tackle BEOWULF since the original -scop-. Even 20 years after my grad school days, I read Old English. Heaney has produced a translation that is profoundly moving. If he sometimes diverges from the four-stress alliterative pattern, with the third stress being the main one, it's by design -- and he's explained it. He spares us the most convoluted kennings, but gives us, instead, the tautness, the spaces between the words, the pauses for thought, tension, and what Tolkien and Auden referred to as the Northern Thing -- the austere combination of faith and darkness that is Wyrd. It's a solid translation and a fine poem in Heaney's hands.
And it consoles me for not having a full translation by Tolkien and that John Gardner never lived to translate BEOWULF as he had hoped.
It is also delightful to consider that, for the first time since the death of T.S. Eliot, poetry is going to the top of the best-seller lists.
Mr. Heaney, although he is not a ring-giver, rings true, and has given us a great gift.
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