Posted by morgan on May 19th, 2007
There is a reprint of a book that may be of interest to fans of Robert E. Howard. Last year, Dover Publications brought out an inexpensive edition of The Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology by Snorri Sturluson. What makes this book of interest is the translator: Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, PhD. Who the hell is Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur you ask? Brodeur (1888-1971) was an instructor in English Philology in the University of California. He wrote books such as The Art of Beowulf, Arthur: Dux Bellorum, and The Pageant of Civilization. Brodeur also wrote fiction for two magazines: Adventure and Argosy-All Story Weekly. In those magazines he wrote a number of stories set in Medieval and even ancient times such as “In the Grip of the Minotaur” (Proto-Vikings vs. Minoan Crete) and “He Rules Who Can” (Harald Hardrede in the Varangian Guard). Brodeur is a kind of proto-Tolkien being a philologist turned fiction writer. Brodeur even turned the Finn & Hengist story from the Germanic folkwandering period into a story for Adventure (“The Honor of a King”). Tolkien later tinkered with that fragment. Brodeur even joins the ranks of proto-sword and sorcery writers as his retelling of the Volsung Saga (“Vengeance”) has Odin making an appearance, probably the first and last time that happened in the pages of Adventure.
The Robert E. Howard bookshelf lists two issues of Adventure containing Brodeur stories: the March 10, 1922 issues contains “Red Night,” and May 20, 1922 contains “For the Crown.” The circumstantial evidence is familiarity with Brodeur though he is never mentioned in any letter by Howard. It is hard to imagine Howard not reading Brodeur as he wrote stories about the Vikings, Normans in Sicily, and a series about a troubadour swordsman in 12th Century southern France. Brodeur’s medieval Aquitaine and Provence remind me a lot of Howard’s Aquilonia.
Brodeur’s translation of the Prose Edda goes back to 1916 for the American-Scandinavian Foundation. There were several printings, I have the fourth from 1946. For years this would have been the translation available to people including REH. There is no mention by him of reading the Eddas, though he does mention Norse sagas to H. P. Lovecraft in a letter from 1931. If he had read the Eddas, it would have been Brodeur’s translation. So for only $8.95 you can have a nice edition of an important book and Dover (www.doverpublications.com) has a special deal if you order this book with their edition of the translation of The Poetic Edda.
Rusty adds: REH mentions Sturlason’s Heimskringla to Lovecraft in a 1935 letter. See the entry for Sturlason in the Bookshelf.
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