An Introduction to Old Norse
||This article's introduction may be too long for the overall article length. (February 2015)|
|Language||English with Old Norse texts|
|Subject||Old Norse, Language|
An Introduction to Old Norse is an English textbook written by E. V. Gordon, arising from his teaching at the University of Leeds and first published in 1927 in Oxford at the Clarendon Press. It has been reprinted several times since. The Second Edition was revised by A. R. Taylor, Gordon's former student and, indirectly, his Leeds successor. The book is commonly accepted as a standard text in the English-speaking world for studying Old Norse. It includes a long introduction, a short grammar of Old Norse, a glossary, an index of names and selections from the Elder Edda as well as a number of other sagas (all in Old Norse).
The introduction of the text traces the literary history of Old Norse, and describes the literary merits, historical accuracy, and compositional style of Old Norse texts. In it, Gordon draws comparisons to other Medieval languages and texts, such as the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf.
The central part of the book is composed of selections of Old Norse texts, including the entire text of Hrafnkels saga in the Second Edition. Other selections include the Eddic poem Þrymskviða, and parts of Hrólfs saga kraka. Both East Norse and West Norse are represented, and there are also runic inscriptions.
The grammar portion of the text is written with the understanding that the reader would be familiar with linguistics, particularly those of Germanic languages. Verb conjugations are given in accordance with stem class, and Gordon often gives the historical reasons for particular changes in word form. There are also notes on the text selections, particularly glosses of difficult lines, as well as notes on differences between branches of Old Norse, both phonologically and in writing.
It includes a comprehensive glossary that often includes cross-references to specific paradigm numbers, including a portion of names that occur within the selected readings. Various illustrations occur throughout, typically of Viking and Scandinavian-related halls, weapons, etc.
Reading selections in the Second Edition
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- Revised edition 1956, revised by A.R. Taylor; Reprinted 1981, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-811184-3
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