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Thidrek's Saga: Die nordische Dietrich- und Nibelungensage

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English (translation)

445 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1240

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for Neil.
293 reviews44 followers
January 18, 2013
The Thidrekssaga af Bern is a Norwegian compilation of nearly every Germanic heroic legend that is known from the Heldenbuch poems and is thought to be a Norwegian translation or adaption of oral epics of Low German origin, which were written or translated at the court of king Haakon the fourth of Norway around the year 1250. The same court which produced the norse Arthurian adaptions and the Karlamagnus saga.

This collection revolves around the exploits of Dietrich Von Bern and his champions, which include Hildebrand, Wittich and Hieme. Included are stories such as Dietrichs struggle to regain his kingdom from Ermanaric, the tale of Valtari and Hildegunnr, Vadi and his son Velent/Volund the Smith, stories about Attila the Hun, Ermaniric's slaying of The Harlung brothers and the six bridal quest romances that the saga seems to be structured around.

Embedded within this huge saga are three sections on the youthful adventures of Siegfried-Sigurd and a large section known as the Niflunga Saga, these sections are thought to be based on older Nibelung-Volsung material that may have been used by the Nibelungenlied poet as source material. The author of the Volsunga Saga also copied an entire passage from this saga. Readers of epics such as Dietrichs Flucht, Die Rabenschlacht, Hildebrandslied and Alpharts Tod will also find much parallel material in this saga.

While this book is primarily used by German scholars, the book can also be found lurking on the shelves of all serious readers of Old English heroic poetry. The parallel material to poems like Waldere, Deor and Widsith are amazing. The obscure section in Beowulf where the poet mentions Eomanric and Hama doesn't seem so strange after a reading of this saga. The saga also seems to preserve a version of the Wayland legend that is very similar to the version carved on the Franks casket. If the saga really does originate in the Low Countries, the implications that it may even preserve the stories in the form that they were known to the Anglo Saxons are fascinating.

While this saga will probably never be considered great literature, due to the almost childlike prose that it is written in, the small number of admirers may continue to grow with the publication of this excellent English translation. The translator does an excellent job in putting the confusing texts in order and also translates the final chapter from the Swedish Didrik Chronicle, which gives a different ending than the Norwegian version. There is also an introduction and a bibliography to further reading.
Profile Image for Csenge.
Author 15 books69 followers
April 5, 2015
Great read, great translation. A truly epic story with knights, dragons, epic battles, love, intrigue, and everything in-between. In a lot of ways it resembles the Arthurian legends, with a king in the center of a group of valiant knights, all with their own stories. Some of them are very likable, while others are more controversial, but together, they make for a great story.
In the context of European cultural traditions, this saga should be known at least as well as Arthurian legends.

Minor problems: Very tiny font. The section titles give most of the plot twists away (that's probably not the translator's fault, though). Could have done with some more footnotes, since some of the episodes are out of chronological order.
Profile Image for Ben.
60 reviews
April 23, 2017
This is such an enjoyable set of stories and so like Arthurian romance that I don't understand why it isn't more well-known. If you want to read about Germanic heroes in the Arthurian mode, this is the book for you. I am reading it while researching the heroes of "Widsith" and I am finding details that I haven't seen in texts about "Widsith." For instance, Wade's mother is a mermaid in this tale.
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews

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