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Peter Andreas Munch - Norse Mythology Legends of Gods and Heroes (1.1 MB)

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The Norwegian original on which the present translation is based was written by Peter Andreas Munch, the founder of the Norwegian school of history. Munch's scholarly interests embraced also many related subjects, such as general history, archaeology, geography, ethnography, linguistics, and jurisprudence. His varied labors have in large part stood the test of time. His most important work, the "History of the Norwegian People" (Det norske folks historie, 8 vols. 1851-63) covering the period of Norway's ancient independence ... More >>>
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Category 1:  Asatru and Odinism
Category 2:  Religion and Mythology
Category 3:  Gods And Goddesses
Author:      Peter Andreas Munch
Format:      eBook
The Norwegian original on which the present translation is based was written by Peter Andreas Munch, the founder of the Norwegian school of history. Munch's scholarly interests embraced also many related subjects, such as general history, archaeology, geography, ethnography, linguistics, and jurisprudence. His varied labors have in large part stood the test of time. His most important work, the "History of the Norwegian People" (Det norske folks historie, 8 vols. 1851-63) covering the period of Norway's ancient independence ending with the Kalmar Union of 1397, still remains a source book and a point of departure for historians. The great significance of Munch's scholarship lies in its influence upon the modern renascence of Norwegian culture. In the middle of the nineteenth century he was the most conspicuous intellectual force in the country, as Wergeland had been before him and as Bjornson came to be after him. The national spirit in Norway, which has steadily gained strength, owes a heavy debt to the gifted leaders of an earlier generation, not least among whom was Munch. As an historian, as an editor of Old Norse poetry and saga, as a recorder of the venerable myths and legends of the race, he did yeoman service in establishing a sense of historical continuity between the Norway of the past and the Norway of the present. Since his day, Norwegians have labored in the fields of history, folklore, and related subjects, deepening and strengthening that fruitful sense of national consciousness which he did so much to awaken.

Munch's handbook of Norse Mythology, which first appeared in 1840, was originally written as a supplementary volume to a school text on the history of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. As a book for students and as a work of general reference it has maintained its popularity. The third edition (1922) from which the translation is made, was prepared by Professor Magnus Olsen of the University of Oslo, in response to the demand for an up-to-date treatment of the entire subject. He found it advisable, however, to revise Munch's work rather than to attempt a wholly original book, since he was thus able to incorporate the results of later research in a volume which had long enjoyed both popular and scholarly approval. The value of Munch's work has been greatly increased through Professor Olsen's revision.

The English translation is intended as a companion volume to two other books published in the SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS series, The Prose Edda, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, and The Poetic Edda, translated by Henry Adams Bellows. Norse Mythology will serve alike the student of Old Norse literature, and the general reader who seeks an authoritative guide through the world of Northern myth and legend. My thanks are due to Professor Magnus Olsen for permission to translate the work, and to Professor William Witherle Lawrence, of Columbia University, Chairman of the Publications Committee of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, for many valuable suggestions. - S. B. H.

About Author:

Peter Andreas Munch (15 December 1810 - 25 May 1863), usually known as P. A. Munch, was a Norwegian historian, known for his work on the medieval history of Norway. Munch's scholarship included Norwegian archaeology, geography, ethnography, linguistics, and jurisprudence. He was also noted for his Norse Legendary saga translations.

Peter Andreas Munch was born in Christiania (now Oslo). He was the son of Edvard Storm Munch and Johanne Sophie Hofgaard. Munch was the uncle of the famous painter Edvard Munch.

Munch grew up at Gjerpen parsonage, where his father was parish priest of the Church of Norway. He was schooled in the city of Skien. He attended the Royal Frederick University. Munch first studied law and took his state examination in 1834, but then turned to historical and philological studies.

Munch's first great achievement, with Rudolph Keyser, was their three volumes of Norges Gamle Love (Norway's old laws), edited after a two-year research visit to Copenhagen. In 1837, he became lecturer in history at the University of Oslo and in 1841 became a Professor of History. In 1857, after producing numerous publications, he received a large grant for archives research in Rome and lived there from 1859-61. He was one of the first non-Catholics to be allowed into the archives of the Vatican. He took extensive notes from the volumes of papal letters, and sometimes drew accurate facsimiles of the texts. His research there was useful in his main work, Det norske Folks Historie (History of the Norwegian People), in eight volumes, and he sent his notes home to the Royal Archives in Christiania. Among the theories he is remembered for is the theory on immigration to Norway, in which he developed work done by Rudolf Keyser. On a trip back to Rome to fetch his family, who had remained there for a while, he died from a stroke, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome.

The chronicle of Man and The Sudreys

In this work, Munch translated the 3rd Chronicle from a Codex transferred to the British Museum (formerly owned in 1620 by one Sir Robert Cotton). The manuscript is the only known copy of this Codex (and thought to be the only one). In any event, Munch translated runic characters and added historical notes to lend light upon the writings, and using previous works on the history of Scottish and Icelandic Isles to aid in the presentation of the translated material.

Controversial views about the Finno-Ugric peoples

Peter Munch had racial thoughts on certain peoples, e.g. Finns and Hungarians. He despised Finns and claimed that they cannot have an independent country because of their low state of civilization, as he claimed. Peter Munch claimed in his article on Finnish nationality (Om Finlands Nationalitet og dens Forhold til den svenske) in 1855, that Finns and Hungarians must have a human race of their own.

Selected Peter Andreas Munch's works:

- Norges, Sveriges og Danmarks Historie til Skolebrug (1838)
- Norges Historie i kort Udtog for de forste Begyndere (1839)
- Nordens gamle Gude- og Helte-Sagn i kortfattet Fremstilling (1840)
- Verdenshistoriens vigtigste Begivenheder (1840)
- De nyeste Tiders Historie (1842)
- Fortegnelse over de mest befarede Landeveie og Reiserouter saavel mellem Stderne, som Landdistricterne i Norge (1846)
- Det oldnorske Sprogs eller Norronasprogets Grammatik (with C. R. Unger, 1847)
- Underholdende Tildragelser af Norges Historie (1847)
- Nordmndenes Gudelre i Hedenold (1847)
- Det gotiske Sprogs Formlre (1848)
- Kortfattet Fremstilling af den ldste norske Runeskrift (1848)
- Om Skandinavismen (1849)
- Historisk-geographisk Beskrivelse over Kongeriget Norge (Noregsveldi) i Middelalderen (1849)
- Det norske Folks Historie (1852-1863)
- Om den saakaldte nyere historiske Skole i Norge (1853)
- Nordmndenes ldste Gude- og Helte-Sagn (1854)
- The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys (1860)