Altgermanische Relgionsgeschichte * Jan de Vries (1970 Walter de Gruyter & co * ISBN: 3110026783)

No no, I haven’t found a new or even a secondhand copy, but I DID get a copy from the library to finally be able to read this primary source of information about the religion of the ancient Germans/Teutons. Of course (since I had the choice) I got the 1970 pressing. The work was originally published in 1934 (part I) and 1937 (part II) and then in 1956/7 De Vries made a completely new edition, heavily revised and with use of the latest archeological and scholarly findings. This second edition was reprinted after De Vries’ death (1964) in 1970. When this edition was sold out, for some reason the work was never made available again, even when for example the work with the same title by Richard Meyer was reprinted again and other late 19th century works are also still or again available.
This is truely a shame, because of all the works in this vein, this is indeed the best. Of course, because it is (as far as I know) the largest of them all. My Meyer book is 650 pages, De Vries has at least 250 pages more. Basically this work is exactly the same as all the other books with the same subject that I read so far. De Vries starts to explain what mythology is, how to investigate it, what the sources for Germanic mythology are, shallow comparisons of different mythologies and a little bit of history. Then follow chapters about folkloristic creatures such as giants, dwarves, elves and the like. All very interesting, but a bit repetative now I have read several similar books in a short time. Part one was finished rapidly, but the last chapter was getting interesting with information about temples, images of gods, priests, offerings, etc. Then in part two De Vries still follows his predecessors. He speaks about different gods separately and this at length. This fills about the whole of part two, but towards the end some other subjects are dealt with; the world we live in, its beginning and its end. The book ends with the demise of the pagan faith.
Not much different from other books, but so far one of the most recent ones (1956…) and definately the most lenghty of them. Now I only need a copy for myself!
5/11/04
Got it!

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