Legends from the Ancient North
Michael Alexander is the Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews. He has translated The Earliest English Poems, The Canterbury Tales: The First Fragment, and Beowulf for Penguin.
Legends from the Ancient North: Five classics of Norse literature that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien's epic vision in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Legendary fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien spent much of his life studying, translating, and teaching the ancient tales of northern Europe at Oxford and drew on them for his own writing. These epic stories, with their wizards and knights, dragons and trolls, cursed rings and magic swords, are as fascinating today as they were thousands of year ago. Reading them brings us as close as we will ever get to the magical worlds of the Vikings and the origins of their twentieth-century counterpart: Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
In this collection of the earliest verse in English, heroic poems celebrate the courage, loyalty, and strength of the ancient world: in "The Battle of Maldon" a brave Anglo-Saxon army attempt to fend off a Viking invasion; "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer" reflect on exile, loss and destiny; and The Exeter Riddles are witty linguistic puzzles that directly influenced Golum's famous riddles in Tolkien's The Hobbit.