The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R.

Tolkien, which tells the epic story of the Norse hero, Sigurd, the dragon-slayer, the revenge of his wife, Gudrun, and the Fall of the Nibelungs. "Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version, now published for the first time, of the great legend of Northern antiquity, in two closely related poems to which he gave the titles The New Lay of the Volsungs and The New Lay of Gudrun. "In the Lay of the Volsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fafnir most celebrated of dragons, whose treasure he took for his own; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood.

In that court there sprang great love but also great hate, brought about by the power of the enchantress, mother of the Niflungs, skilled in the arts of magic, of shape-changing and potions of forgetfulness. "In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrun his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd at the hands of his blood-brothers, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrun.

In the Lay of Gudrun her fate after the death of Sigurd is told, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers the Niflung lords, and her hideous revenge. "Deriving his version primarily from his close study of the ancient poetry of Norway and Iceland known as the Poetic Edda (and where no old poetry exists, from the later prose work the Volsunga Saga), J.R.R.

Tolkien employed a verse-form of short stanzas whose lines embody in English the exacting alliterative rhythms and the concentrated energy of the poems of the Edda." - Christopher Tolkien


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages, 7 b/w illus
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry
  • ISBN: 9780007317240



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Tolkien's scholarship is always pretty impressive, even if it's out of date, now. Reading the bits of his lectures pieced together by his son is very interesting, and I rather wish I could attend them. (If I could be a member of Connie Willis' time travelling department of historians, I'd go visit Tolkien if I could.)<br/><br/>It's also amazing how much work he did on keeping the metre and language of Old Norse in a modern English version of the stories. The verse itself is probably the main attraction for readers. The story can be difficult to follow, but I think once you get into the swing of it -- or if you know the basic ideas already -- it's no harder to follow than a translation of The Saga of the Volsungs, though it is obviously in verse whereas that is mostly prose.