The heroes and villains of Norse mythology have endured for centuries, infiltrating art, opera, film, television and books, shape-shifting – like the trickster Loki – to suit the cultures that encountered them. Through careful analysis of the literature and archaeology of the Norse world, Carolyne Larrington takes us deep into the realm described in the Icelandic sagas, from the gloomy halls of Hel to the dazzling heights of Asgard. She expertly examines the myths’ many modern-day reimaginings, revealing the guises that have been worn by the figures of Norse myth, including Marvel’s muscled, golden-haired Thor and George R.R Martin’s White Walkers, who march inexorably southwards, bringing their eternal winter with them.
This sophisticated yet accessible guide explores how these powerful stories have inspired our cultural landscape, from fuelling the creative genius of Wagner to the construction of the Nazi’s nationalist ideology. Larrington’s elegantly written retellings capture the essence of the original myths while also delving into the history of their meanings. The myths continue to speak to such modern concerns as masculinity and environmental disaster – after the inevitable, apocalyptic ragna rök, renewal comes from the roots of Yggdrasill, the World Tree.
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