NONFICTION

Echoes of Valhalla: The Afterlife of the Eddas and Sagas

Reaktion. Jun. 2017. 256p. tr. from Icelandic by Jane Appleton. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781780237152. $24.95. LIT
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The Icelandic eddas and sagas have endured throughout history, not just as a subject of scholarship, but in popular culture. Author Helgason (Icelandic & comparative cultural studies, Univ. of Iceland; The Rewriting of Njáls Saga) presents a discussion on modern adaptations, interpretations, and influences of these writings via an examination of various art forms including comic books, film, music, and more. For example, a discussion of three plays inspired by the Njáls Saga includes Henrik Ibsen's Hærmændene paa Helgeland, Gordon Bottomley's The Riding to Lithend, and Thit Jensen's Nial den Vise. Helgason compares these modern retellings and goes further to address influences on these works (e.g., source material) and themes (e.g., feminine roles). Analyses of characters, the author, compiler, and source material is often included, and a wide range of examples are used (e.g., Marvel comic books featuring the Norse god Thor, the Danish comic book series "Valhalla" by Peter Madsen).
VERDICT Succinct, engaging, and insightful, this book is an excellent supplement to collections on the topic. Recommended for both general interest readers and scholars.

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