Tolkien's wizard Gandalf, Wagner's Valkyrie Brunnhilde, Marvel's superhero the Mighty Thor and the Vikings heading for Valhalla in Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song': these are just a few examples of how Icelandic medieval literature has shaped the human imagination during the past 150 years. Echoes of Valhalla is a unique account of modern adaptations of the Icelandic eddas (poems of Norse mythology) and sagas (ancient prose accounts of Viking history, voyages and battles). Jon Karl Helgason looks at comic books, plays, music and films, exploring reincarnations of the Nordic gods Thor and Odin and the saga characters Hallgerd Long-legs, Gunnar of Hlidarendi and Leif the Lucky, as well as the works of the medieval writer Snorri Sturluson. He looks at Scandinavian, British and American cases, as well as German, Italian and Japanese adaptions. Examples include the cartoonists Jack Kirby and Peter Madsen, playwrights Henrik Ibsen and Gordon Bottomley, travellers Frederick Metcalfe and Poul Vad, composers Richard Wagner and Edward Elgar, rock musicians Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and film directors Roy William Neill and Richard Fleischer.Echoes of Valhalla shows how disparate, age-old poems and prose from medieval rural Iceland have become a part of our shared cultural experience today - how the eddas and sagas themselves live on.
The book will appeal to the wide audience interested in Viking mythology and history, as well as films, books, music, graphic novels and tv series such as Vikings.
Jon Karl Helgason is Professor of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland.