Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ragnarök Revisited

There were hints of an interest in Norse mythology already in her 1990 novel Possession. Now the distinguished novelist Dame A.S. Byatt is giving it her full attention, in Ragnarök: The End of the Gods, apparently already available as an e-book (what they?), but to be published as a real book on 1 September. In a long article in today's Guardian Review, she explains why she chose this myth when asked by publisher Canongate to contribute to their myth series. She sees it as 'a myth of destruction for our times', which shows how 'the world ends because neither the all-too-human gods, with their armies and quarrels, nor the fiery thinker [that's Loki!] know how to save it.' I particularly like the bit where she refers to her childhood experience of reading the Norse myths: 'I didn't "believe in" the Norse gods, and indeed used my sense of their world to come to the conclusion that the Christian story was another myth, the same kind of story about the nature of things, but less interesting and less exciting.' Sounds like a book to look forward to, then.

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    I preordered this on Amazon after reading your posting. Will be interested to see what it is like. Not quite sure when I will get to it tho I must admit.

    For some reason it made me think of two books I have not read since the 80s which were retellings of some of the mythic tales by Nigel Frith in a cod "saga type " prose called "Asgard" and "Jormungand". Quite an interesting experiment although the novelty wore off a bit in the second book. They are still available on Amazon.

    More entertaining, but probably known to you, is the first book of the "Incomplete Enchanter" series by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. Set in the Fimbulwinter it tells the story of Thor's visit to Utgard-Loki through the prism of a college professor. I still say "Yngvi is a louse" occassionally. It gets the spirit of the tales down pat and the second story made me try (and fail) to read Spencer's Fairie Queen as a teenager.

    What larks, Pip!!!