Van Ægir Tot Ymir * Paula Vermeyden & Arend Quak (2000)

This Dutch book with the subtitle “characters and themes from the Germanic and Nordic mythology” is a must-have for anyone interested in that subject and able to read Dutch. For some reason it took quite a while before I learned of the existence of this book, but I am more than happy to have it. The title already suggests that this is a reference-book or even a dictionary/encyclopedia. Indeed, this is exactly what it is! In alphabetical order no less than 77 subjects are written about. Some take several pages, others just half a column, but always the information is very objective and complete (many sources are used and given) and what is particularly nice, the writers have searched for all images (mostly named, not printed though) of a certain theme, other kinds of art, music, etc. which are always noted in the last paragraph of one article. Every article closes with references. “From Ægir To Ymir” is ultimately and the ultimate reference book on the subject!
Of course the book is not all perfect. Every subject is spoken about separately, so there is much double information. When you just use this book for reference purposes, this doesn’t matter. What matters more, is that there are some obvious and silly mistakes and on at least one occasion the book contradicts itself. In the article about giants (p. 158-162) contains most of mistakes. First, Sleipnir is mentioned as one of the giants that Thor has slain, but of course Sleipnir is not a giant, but Odin’s horse. Also the article says that the cow Audhumla licks Buri from a block of ice. This is not correct and on page 219 (under “Ymir”) it says correctly that Audhumla licks Buri from a block of salt. Whereas the book is mostly quite complete (as far as I can judge of course), the article about the giants completely ignores the (possible) naturalistic explanation of the giants (that they represent forces of nature). One last, and minor point is that page 162 (under “Rind”) says “The Codex Regius of the Song-Edda”. This Edda is usually called the ‘poetic Edda’, but that is just a matter of preference, but the Codex Regius contains the poetic Edda and this sentence makes it seem as if it is the other way around.
But, inspite of these minor points, this book belongs on the bookshelf of any ‘pagan’ or person interested being able to read Dutch. A short article with references and information from almost any corner thinkable which will highly simplify your own seeking efforts. The book, even when only 255 pages thick, contains tons of valuable information, is very well readable, has some hard-to-get images and references to books and works of art I had never heard off!
uitgeverij sun 2000, isbn 906168661X

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