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The Saga of the Volsungs is an Icelandic epic of special interest to admirers of Richard Wagner, who drew heavily upon this Norse source in writing his Ring Cycle and a primary source for writers of fantasy such as J. R. R. Tolkien and romantics such as William Morris.
A trove of traditional lore, it tells of love, jealousy, vengeance, war, and the mythic deeds of the dragonslayer, Sigurd the Volsung.
Byock's comprehensive introduction explores the history, legends, and myths contained in the saga and traces the development of a narrative that reaches back to the period of the great folk migrations in Europe when the Roman Empire collapsed.
Jesse L. Byock is Professor of Old Norse and Medieval Scandinavian Studies, Scandinavian Section, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"This is a book of the highest importance. No one should attempt to teach about Viking society or claim to understand it without being familiar with this chilling and enduring myth."—Eleanor Searle, author of Predatory Kinship & the Creation of Norman Power
"Byock's translation is excellent, but his thorough introduction is of equal scholarly importance. . . . His section on Richard Wagner's use of the Volsung material in writing his Ring will expand the topic toward modern Wagnerians."—Michael Bell, University of Colorado
"The Saga of the Volsungs is one of the most important texts of Old Icelandic literature, with its treatment of Old Scandinavian heroic traditions. . . . The most difficult part of the text to translate is, of course, the poetry, but also here the translator has been successful."—Vésteinn Olason, University of Oslo