Thursday, February 19, 2009

More details on Sigurd and Gudrún

Last month, I wrote about the upcoming publication of Tolkien’s verse retelling of part of the Old Norse Volsungs legend. Since then, some new details have emerged:
  • According to recent announcements, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish the book, with commentary by Christopher Tolkien, on 5 May 2009 in the United States;
  • According to Pieter Collier, the book will be introduced by a previously unpublished lecture by Tolkien on Old Norse literature — and language, presumably. On the other hand, Harper Collins’ official online book store says it will be “edited and introduced by Tolkien’s son, Christopher” (emphasis added);
  • David Brawn announced that the U.K. edition will contain “a small number of decorative illustrations” by Bill Sanderson. I think the woodcut style looks very appropriate!
  • The book, in all its various forms (hardcover, de luxe, audio, etc.), is available for pre-order on (I will not take the time to provide links, since most of my visitors are American, but you’ll find them all conveniently collected here);
  • More good news: Mr. Brawn also informs us that the book will be 384 pages, “so not as thin as some people have been speculating” (“some people”, here, includes me).
Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.


  1. This sounds excellent, thanks for the continued updates.

  2. Have you seen this?

    Looks really good for a fan-made film. At least as good as Born of Hope, if not better.

  3. I have seen it, yeah. I can’t see how it’s not a violation of copyright, but you’re right that it does look good. (Just as Born of Hope also does.)

  4. Harm J. Schelhaas3/19/2009 8:25 PM

    As to speculations on the thinness (or otherwise) of the book, I heard a few things from a reliable source, which, however, I can't identify, so to you it is only so much speculation.

    The poem(s) will be printed in half-verses to a line. This is, I believe, the conventional format for Edda-poems. Indeed, in his letter to W.H. Auden, that has been quoted from earlier, Tolkien himself speaks of eight-line stanzas of fornyrðislag verse, and the conventional eddaic stanzas are of eight half-verses or four full verses.

    So there will be much white on the pages of verse.

    Secondly, more than half of the pages will be occupied by the introduction and the commentaries.

  5. Harm, thanks for the feedback (on this, and several other recent posts). We learned some time ago the actual length of the book (384 pp.), and it sounds like your inside information agrees. I had not expected the commentary to be so extensive, but I think it’s great. Moreover, if you take out “more than half of the pages” for the introduction and commentary, then it looks like my original guess as to the number of pages occupied by the verse was not too far off.