26 August 2009
Kevin Crossley-Holland: THE NORSE MYTHS
Two years or so ago, while vacationing in southern Spain during a semester abroad (No: unlike most sentences beginning in such a fashion, this one will not go on to describe a memorable sexual encounter with a mysterious foreign woman, a life-altering bike trip, or an amusing marijuana-related anecdote. I apologize for the inconvenience), I started reading Edith Hamilton's classic Mythology. A short while later, I started drinking, which may have colored my recollection of this event somewhat, but upon my return to the US I was left with the impression that nothing makes good vacation reading like myths and folktales do. Flash forward to 2009, and you've got me puzzling over what sort of reading material I should bring to New York's Adirondack Mountains with me; since I'm already at work on the Norse myth-influenced American Gods (see previous entry), I grab my father's copy of Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Norse Myths. Result? I enjoy myself thoroughly. C-H (hyphenated names are too long to write out in full) brings these thirty-two myths to life in much the way Hamilton did so successfully with (mostly) the Greek and Romans, and The Norse Myths can hardly be described as a dry retelling of these age-old stories. It helps, of course, that Norse mythology is so character-driven, and its characters so vivid: Odin, Loki, Thor, and company are a lot of fun (at least up until Ragnarok), and many of the tales bristle with a humor that I'd have to guess C-H is responsible for midwifing through the often-dangerous process of translation. I'm currently looking for my own copy of this A+ book in Philadelphia's used bookstores, and would recommend it immediately to anybody looking for a comprehensive yet readable introducution to the Norse myths.