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TURGON'S BOOKSHELF:
"The Prince of All Dragons": A Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader Extra

In writing of his childhood reading in his famous essay "On Fairy-stories," Tolkien observed that:

"Best of all [was] the nameless North of Sigurd of the Völsungs, and the prince of all dragons. Such lands were pre-eminently desirable. I never imagined that the dragon was of the same order as the horse. And that was not solely because I saw horses daily, but never even the footprint of a worm. The dragon had the trade-mark Of Faerie written plain upon him. In whatever world he had his being it was an Other-world. Fantasy, the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds, was the heart of the desire of Faërie. I desired dragons with a profound desire. Of course, I in my timid body did not wish to have them in the neighborhood, intruding into my relatively safe world, in which it was, for instance, possible to read stories in peace of mind, free from fear. But the world that contained even the imagination of Fáfnir was richer and more beautiful, at whatever cost of peril."

In a previous column I posted from The Poetic Edda the full version of "Fáfnismál," one of the poems which tells part of the story of the hero Sigurd/Sigurth, who has encountered the dragon Fáfnir. And I promised to follow this up with the full text of The Saga of the Völsungs. Here it is, in the translation by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris, first published in 1870. It's fairly long, but it's rewarding to read the story of Fáfnir, whom Tolkien called "the prince of all dragons." The other great dragon story in Germanic literature is that of Beowulf, a translation of which can be found in my Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader (ISBN 1593600119 $14.95).

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--Turgon



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Current Article(s)
09/05
 • Checking in with Anne Petty
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Past Bookshelf
Listing by Date
"The Prince of All Dragons": A Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader Extra
01/20/05
Q&A with Henry Gee
11/18/04
Q&A with Anne C. Petty
06/13/04
The Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader Extras: Selections from The Poetic Edda
06/04/04
More Brief Takes on Recent Books
06/04/04
What is The Tolkien Fan's Medieval Reader?
03/25/04
The Cream of the Crop--Recent Tolkienian Books
02/24/04
Tolkien in Good Company
09/15/03
Q&A with Douglas A. Anderson
09/15/03
An Updated Look at Fall 2003 Tolkien Publications
08/15/03
Q&A with Jane Chance
07/15/03
TTT: The Film Books
06/15/03
Recent and Forthcoming Tolkien-Related Publications 2003
05/27/03
Brief Take on Recent Books
02/01/03
Reading Tolkien beyond The Lord of the Rings
02/01/03
Bilbo’s Last Song
10/01/02
Ted Nasmith’s Two Towers Calendars
10/01/02
A Roundup of Recent and Forthcoming Books by and about J. R. R. Tolkien: Spring and Fall 2002
08/01/02
Revisiting The Marvellous Land of Snergs
05/01/02
Report Card on Film One
12/01/01
Fears II: The Sequel
11/01/01
'Just When You Thought It Was Safe . . .':
What I Fear Most about Peter Jackson's Films

10/01/01
Ted Nasmith’s 2002 Tolkien Calendar
09/01/01
New Tolkien Publications Roundup–Fall 2001
08/01/01
How to Express Your Tolkien Ignorance: A Guide for the Media
07/01/01
An Interview with Tom Shippey
06/01/01
Responses to Critical Errancies
05/01/01
Critical Errancies
04/21/01
New Tolkien Publications, Spring 2001 and Beyond
04/01/01
New Technology Comes to Tolkien
02/01/01
Tolkien as Artist and Illustrator
11/01/00
The 2001 Tolkien Calendar
10/02/00
Tolkienian Publications: Fall 2000 and Beyond
10/01/00
How Not to Study Tolkien
08/23/00
There and Back Again, with Gorbo the Snerg
07/01/00
Tolkien: Life and Letters
06/01/00
Literary Sacrilege
05/01/00
Publications 2000
03/01/00
Millennium Edition
01/11/00
The Best New Tolkien for Christmas
12/19/99
50th Anniversary of Farmer Giles
12/07/99
The Tolkien 2000 Calendar
11/15/99
Hobbitiana
10/24/99
Books - Fall 99
10/24/99
Roverandom
08/22/99
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