Feeds:
Posts
Comments

IMG_2590

Phew, I managed to throw together a pic for Earth day! Would have liked to put some more time and details into it, but I put this off as a reward to myself after meeting my minimum translation goal for the day–will probably try to get another page or two done as well.

Jörð, or “Earth,” giantess, mistress of the All-father, and mother of Þórr, with her son, probably dropping him off at school or something. As fun as it was to portray her like this, she wouldn’t necessarily have looked extraordinary to the gods (except that she might have been insanely beautiful… but hey, no reason this fecund form couldn’t be beautiful too), as whether or not the giants were portrayed as monstrous depends on the role they play in the particular story they show up in (in the Old Norse texts they are apparently not necessarily associated with gigantic size). Jörð seems to have been won over fairly thoroughly to the side of the gods (whether by seduction, force, or magic, we don’t know, but see the poem Skirnir’s Journey to see Frey’s shoe-boy attempt all three), as Snorri tells us in Prose Edda that she is numbered among them. I’m afraid she doesn’t really show up much in the myths, and for fertility deities you have to go to the wonder twins Freyr and Freyja… and, incidentally, Jörð’s son with his association with fertility through (presumably) the weather. 

Would love to go into some sort of eco-critical perspective on the relationship of the Vikings to the natural environment and how can be tied in to the relationship between the gods and the giants and gender and all that, but I should get back to work.

Jackson's take on the poem is that of the Old West--mine is more that of David the Gnome, I guess...

Jackson has is cowboy-take on the Gnomic poem–mine is more David the Gnome, I guess…

Well, three current English translations anyway, now that Jackson Crawford has his translation of Poetic Edda for the general reader tapped for publication with Hackett Publishing Company in the (hopefully near) future. I’ve been meaning to post about this news, plus a rehash of my previous notes on Edda translations, but after finding out that this is apparently Cowboy Poetry week, I figured this would be a good opportunity to mention both Jackson’s upcoming Edda and his “Cowboy Hávamál,” a really cool rendering of the long poem of wisdom and Odinic escapades from Poetic Edda (his new translation will not be cowboy-style–which may relieve some and disappoint others, I suppose). I have a brief introductory post to the Old Norse Hávamál from way back at the start of this blog, if you are unfamiliar with this somewhat unwieldy but super interesting poem (Jackson’s translation is of the “Gnomic Poem” section, the title of which led to my possibly ill-advised comic to the upper right…), though if you want a more thorough introduction and Old Norse text oriented towards scholars in the field, David Evan’s edition is available online. An older non-cowboy translation is available here, though I recommend the current translations instead. Speaking of which…

A (finally completed) depiction of a moment that was left unrendered (but I think implicit) in Völundarkviða, one of my favorite poems in Poetic Edda.

A (finally completed) depiction of a moment that was left unrendered (but I think implicit) in Völundarkviða, one of my favorite poems in Poetic Edda.

I have a general and short introduction to Poetic Edda in my post on the difference between Skaldic and Eddic poetry, though if you have a subscription to The Literary Encyclopedia I did the entries on Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Jackson’s translation will join two other current English versions, Larrington’s Poetic Edda and Orchard’s Elder Edda (both translations of the same book, despite the difference in titles). The selling point for Jackson’s translation, according to Jackson’s own blog, is that it in a “truly readable, contemporary style,” written for casual readers outside the classroom. Not that Larrington or Orchard are intentionally trying to obfuscate the material, but I think that scholars who are used to teaching the material in the classroom (since I have noticed this myself–though of course Jackson teaches these things in the classroom as well) have a tendency to allow the “Oddness” of the material to shine through in translation. Personally, I think this is productive, at least in a classroom setting. As has been noted by scholars in a variety of disciplines (for example, archaeologist of the North Neil Price discusses this in his book The Viking Way, citing a scholar in Classic, if I remember correctly), while we might notice the “Other” (the explicitly different or monstrous relative to the culture of the text we are studying) or the “Queer” (that which “queers” or subverts the norm of the culture of the text), we often miss the “Odd,” the ways in which the text itself, a product of a different culture and semantic world than our own, resists our own attempts to “get it”–or, we may have the illusion that we “get it,” interpreting what we see in terms of our own horizon of expectations, until we hit a knot of indecipherability, where we come up against the alienness of the text, or our own alienness relative to the world the text comes out of and once spoke within. A translation which preserves some of this ambiguity and “Oddness” helps signal the student that it will take some effort to come to terms with the text, as well as reminding us that we can never wholly “master” it–it always speaks to use from another world, to some degree (actually, another lit-crit person and I recently had a bit of an argument with a linguist about just this topic with reference to biblical translation–I suspect that there might be a bit of a divide values-wise in this matter between those who study ancient texts primarily and those who study Language primarily…).

None of this to say that I disagree with Jackson’s project–I’m really excited, actually, and curious to see how he handles the denser and weirder portions. My students have always struggled through the Helgi poems, for example, and the opening Völuspá can be super frustrating for neophytes (or anyone) with its allusiveness (an allusion is more frustrating than effective when we no longer know the reference). Meanwhile I hear Larrington’s translation is being reworked, so I’ll look forward to looking over all three eventually. 

CG Olsen:

Well, the Finn generator gimmick isn’t Japanese-exclusive, but this post over at Rocket News does remind me of a Japanese business man who was in a course with me at Uppsala International Summer Session–according to him, the typological similarities (the languages are not actually related) between Finnish and Japanese (and so, I imagine, between Korean and Finnish) meant that Japanese and Finnish business men found it easier to learn each others languages than to learn other languages. Apparently the enthusiasm for things Finnish in Japan goes beyond greasing the wheels of commerce–though I have to say, I don’t think anyone is surprised that they (or anyone else on God’s green earth) enjoys Moomin books…
Speaking of Finnish and Japanese, both languages are next on my list to learn–will have to choose one or the other, I suppose.

PS: My Finnish name is apparently Kaleva Viljanen–though I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find a “K/Carl” or an “Olsen/Olson” in Finland, given the significant Swedish speaking population over the centuries.

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

キャプチャ

When it comes to Finland, there’s no shortage of opportunities for getting acquainted in Japan’s capital of Tokyo. From cafes where you can chow down with cute, stuffed Moomin characters created by a famous Swiss-Finn, to Finland’s top doughnut chain, Arnold’s, and Fuglen, Oslo’s coolest coffee shop, it’s easy for Tokyoites to take their taste buds for a dip in Nordic cuisine.

Now, people in Japan have found a new way to get acquainted with Finnish culture with the introduction of a clever little name generator from VisitFinland.com. Simply enter your name and within seconds you’re bestowed with the Finnish version, complete with a full explanation of the meaning behind your new name. We translated some well-known names and found they were connected to the wild nature of Lapland and mysterious tales of forest kings. 

View original 298 more words

A Frozen Tale from Sinclair & Hill on Vimeo.

 

Super cool photo shoot at the Swedish castle Skokloster! Awesome stuff for those of you into the steampunk or late medieval/early modern aesthetic. You can’t really say it is “untouched” in terms of “abandoned,” as you can go take a tour there (I think I may have…), but I suppose the sense is that no one has lived there in all that time. It is one of many castles in Sweden associated with the royal family, but seeing as the country is the semi-socialist democracy that it is, there are quite a few that are open to the public. There used to be an annual renn-faire type gathering called “Skoklosterspelen” (the Skokloster games), but I guess those ended back in 2007 (so I missed my chance those summers that I studied there–the last time I was in Sweden was the final summer of the games… wow, that’s a long time ago…).

The photo series is also focused on the super interesting scholar-Queen Christina, whom you should definitely learn more about. Maybe one day I’ll put together a blog post more about her… though she is a bit outside my specialty (though not my field), so we’ll have to see.

Tolkien’s Beowulf

A quick sketch of Tolkien as a Warrior Dane. OK, I may not have the right warrior clothes for the migration era period that the poem describes, plus I got the scabbard on the wrong side, and the pin for his cloak is too centered, and the whole thing is messy... but I did this real quick in 5 or 10 minutes and need to get back to work, so gimme a break! Also, I think it looks a bit more like Magneto as a warrior dane...

A quick sketch of Tolkien as a Warrior Dane. OK, I may not have the right warrior clothes for the migration era period that the poem describes, plus I got the scabbard on the wrong side, and the pin for his cloak is too centered, and the whole thing is messy… but I did this real quick in 5 or 10 minutes and need to get back to work, so gimme a break! Also, I think it looks a bit more like Magneto as a warrior dane…

So a bunch of announcements went up today to the effect that Tolkien’s translation of the Old English heroic poem Beowulf, brought to light a while back, will be published this Spring. This makes it the latest of Tolkien’s posthumously published works, and the latest of his interpretations (including translations) of the heroic material he studied, which in more recent times includes his own compositions building on/emulating the Volsung material in Old Norse literature and the Arthurian tradition in Britain. When I studied Old and Middle English lit (not my major, just some fun classes) in undergrad, I wrote on the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and really appreciated Tolkien’s translation as very beautiful in its own right, and since I had a rudimentary competence in Middle English, I enjoyed being able to appreciate the ways his translation differed from others in its interpretation of the original. I did not use his edition of the poem at the time, but it is still available, co-edited with EV Gordon, the author of the introduction to Old Norse that so many of us in the field first studied with. Tolkien’s poetic treatments of some stories from his own mythos are clearly related to his translations and reworkings of the heroic material he studied–we might articulate it as different layers, each at a bit more of a remove from texts like Beowulf: 1) editions (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), 2) translations, 3) interpretations/original contributions to the “old” material, 4) homages from his own original universe (which, as you will see if you read some of his son’s commentary in the posthumously published Middle Earth series, could also be understood contributions to the “universe” of the older sources, related, I would argue, to the euhemeristic reimaginings of pagan myth in the Middle Ages).

Tolkien was, of course, a respectable scholar of Beowulf, and most of his “serious” fans are familiar with his essay “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” which had a significant impact on the way we study the poem (though one might also argue that it was simply a sign of the times, as things shifted in academia–but I do think Tolkien’s sympathy with a fellow poet, even across a millennium, shows through here). He also wrote an essay introducing a translation of the poem, some of the points of which are summarized here (sorry, couldn’t find an online text at the moment). This particular translation (and, I assume, the notes that go with it) belong to Tolkien’s younger days, but I am still pretty interested in seeing this (maybe HarperCollins could send me a review copy…? Maybe?). In particular it will be interesting to see the choices he makes in contrast to Seamus Heaney’s translation–both are poets, but will Tolkien’s additional qualifications as a scholar of Old English affect his translation at all? (Incidentally, I discuss Heaney’s translation as well as some notes re: the context of the composition and content of the poem here).

Well, I need to get back to my own translation work, so I will have to save anything else I’d like to say for the release of the actual translation. Other links to the news here, here, and here.

The Grim Bunny 12

Grim Bunny 12

The Grim Bunny #12! As we reach the end of this series of 12, TGB looks off into the distance, the sky an open canvas, all set for… another series of 12? Maybe! Thanks for those who have followed for these 12 pics (plus a few extras included below), and keep evangelizing for TGB if you want to see more in the future! I may try pursuing a stronger narrative arc next time (assuming I have time for a next time… fingers crossed). For now, in addition to needing to focus on my translation, I’d like to be able to do some non-TGB blog posts, put together some TGB merchandise, and do all sorts of other things.

But don’t despair! You can always visit the Grim Bunny archives at DeviantArt or here on WordPress! Also, feel free to follow me on tumblr, and please consider supporting my creative work by visiting my store either on DeviantArt or Redbubble! TGB merch will one day be available at both–hopefully one or two things relatively soon.

And here are a few more sketches, just for fun!

TGB Bonus Sketch 1 Final

TGB Bonus Sketch 2

TGB Bonus Sketch 3

The Grim Bunny 11

Grim Bunny 11

TGB # 11 is here! For the delight and exercise of your imagination. Next time there will hopefully be a bonus pic or two as well–meant to post them today, but the photos didn’t turn out. :(

Because work is crazy for me right now, and because I’d like to find some time to turn some of these pics into cards, stickers, t-shirts, and other stuff, I think I’m going to have TGB run in series of 12–so next week will be the last of this series, but hopefully (especially if you SHARE WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND MAKE THEM FANS) I will be back to continue with another series of 12. Plus, I should really be putting up more Viking-related blog posts on this site…

TGB archives are here and here! Original tumblr post for this entry is here!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 714 other followers