First edition of the first translation into English of a substantial portion of the Poetic Edda.
"Odin: Valhalla's Queen! I pray thee say / Which to Vafthrudnis' hall's the way: / For I with him intend to try / My skill in ancient mystery."
Much like the Greeks' Iliad and Odyssey, the great literature of the Vikings flourished in an oral culture, written down only centuries later. The Elder or Poetic Edda, the most important collection of poems from this tradition, survives primarily in the Codex Regius, a thirteenth-century Icelandic manuscript. Cottle's translation contains twelve stories from the Poetic Edda, beginning with the Song of Vafthrudnis, or Vafþrúðnismál, a contest poem between Odin and the giant Vafthrudnir to determine who is the most knowledgeable. This poem is now one of our major sources for Norse mythology. Other major poems included are the Grímnismál, in which a disguised Odin is taken captive; the Skírnismál, in which the god Freyr sends his servant into the world of the dead to pursue a beautiful maiden; and the Allvismál, a valuable poem of Norse cosmology in which a dwarf competes for the hand of Thor's daughter. This edition is also noteworthy for the dedicatory poem by Robert Southey, the Lake Poet would become England's Poet Laureate in 1813. In the poem, Southey grieves the recent death of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN and mother of Mary Shelley, "who among women left no equal mind." A landmark publication in the English study of Norse mythology.
Bristol: Printed by N. Biggs, for Joseph Cottle, and sold in London by Messrs. Robinsons, 1797. Octavo. 8.25'' x 4.75''. Modern quarter brown sheep, marbled boards, red morocco spine label, gilt-ruled spine. Each poem headed with individual title and argument leaves, one page of errata at rear. xlii, , 318,  pages. Offsetting from binding turn-ins, some dustiness to title page and edges of text block.
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