Sunday, April 02, 2006

Worthwhile Endeavours

CD's in Play: David Bowie, Low. Beck, Sea Change.

I realised a few days back that I have never read The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (or 1001 Arabian Nights, or The Arabian Nights might sound more familiar to some) after watching The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad on TCM. Seems a sad oversight on my part, especially given my penchant for older literature. Anyhow, I looked it up on line and found that there is a full translation of it on line, so I decided to post the link here. It's the Sir Richard Francis Burton translation, and I do not mean the actor. The footnotes are what make this translation especially worthwhile.
But posting just one link seemed a tad... pointless. I decided to post links to other older works, because I do believe that people should go back and read what was written before. I have a problem reading expansive amounts of texts on a computer screen for any sustained period of time, but some people (e.g. Trent) do not.

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Sir Richard Francis Burton Translation. And no, not the Actor)

The Canterbury Tales
We may all have had to read this in Grade 12 at some point (depending on your country/province of residence) , but wasn't it a good experience? If yes, why not look it up again? If not, give it another shot it might be better this time. I am using Wikipedia's entry because it has a whole host of external links on The Tales. I still have a copy of this in Middle English.

Njál's Saga
Highly enjoyable, the easiest saga to get into in my opinion. The "á" is pronounced as "ow" just like "howl", so just say "Njowl".

Egil's Saga
A classic. Read this saga once you have finished with Njál's Saga. I forget who said this, but an 18th Century scholar once said, "All Iceland sagas can be summed up in four words - farmers came to blows." Essentially true, but Egil's Saga goes far beyond this and gives the modern reader a real feel for the so-called Viking Age.

The Eddas
This link takes you to a place where you can read the Eddas in prosaic or poetic forms, and in Old Norse too if you are so inclined to try. Ever wonder where the names Gandalf, Gimli, Kili, Fili and so on came from? Read the Eddas. See Legends and Sagas.
This link leads to a menu with links to Greek and Celtic mythology as well.

Easily the toughest read on the list for many.
Again, the Wikipedia link has a number of links to a number of translations and other tid-bits about Beowulf. If you hit the library, check out the Seamus Heaney translation.
One of the coolest links allows you to listen to Beowulf read in Old English. Even if you aren't English by descent, it is worth checking out. If you are reading this blog, chances are you can speak, read and write in English, so why not check out the earliest form of the language?

Sacred Texts
Just came across this link. Basically, if you want to take a look at the sacred texts of any religion look here. They also have a section on Tolkien with links to the texts that inspired his creation of Middle Earth.
Never read the Vedas? Take a look here:
Zoroastrians texts?
The Talmud?
Christian and Gnostic texts?
European Folklore and Mythology?

In Addendum - I changed the quote at the top of my blog. The Wanderer is a Saxon poem preserved in the Book of Exeter. It's the first five lines of the poem, a series of translations can be found here at Dr. Rick MacDonald's website for The Wanderer Project. I first read the poem when I was sixteen and it has stuck with me ever since.


Blogger Thoth Harris said...

I loved reading Myth's of the Norseman, and also the real-life account - the Saga (I can't remember the title right now), when Leif discovers Newfoundland (and land in the Americas long before Columbus), and have to deal with the hostile natives stealing their milk.

Hey, if you want to bring your sidebar back up, what you should do is change the font of the links (because they are long and there is no break for them to go down to the next line after the margin). I usually change mine to the Tiny size font and Times style font.

02 April, 2006 23:03  
Blogger Magnus said...

Nah, That requires Trent to fix it, since I don't know html. He's busy like a beaver in Dawson Creek, so I just got rid of the extraneous link to the Beowulf sound clips in O.E.
The Saga of Erik the Red (Eiríks Saga Rauða) and The Saga of the Greenlanders (Grœnlendinga Saga) are what you might be thinking of. Another good Icelandic Saga is a later saga, Eyrbyggja saga. It's actually the first one I read.

03 April, 2006 10:44  
Blogger Michael Abrams said...

I feel duty bound to point out that I almost named my first born (as of yet unborn, so it's still not too late) Gunnar, after you know who. Problem was, I knew a kid in high school who went by "Gunner," which is surely what they'd call anyone named "Gunnar," and he was a prick, albeit a fairly enormous, warrior like one. Question: is Njal a good name for a half Jew half Chinese kid growing up in the East Village?

07 May, 2006 16:21  
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17 December, 2006 23:46  

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