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PATRICIA TERRY

1969, 1989
Poems of the Elder Edda
Revised edition (1989)
University of Pennsylvania Press
304 pages

Please note that that, unless otherwise noted, this entry refers solely to the 1989 revised edition of Patricia Terry’s 1969 translation.

Translated poems (32):

Codex Regius (29)
Vǫluspá, Hávamál, Vafþrúðnismál, Grímnismál, Skírnismál, Hárbarðsljóð, Hymiskviða, Lokasenna, Þrymskviða, Vǫlundarkviða, Alvíssmál, Grípisspá, Reginsmál, Fáfnismál, Sigrdrífumál, Brot af Sigurðarkviðu, Sigurðarkviða hin skamma, Helreið Brynhildar, Oddrúnargrátr, Atlakviða, Atlamál, Guðrúnarhvǫt, Hamðismál, Helgakviða Hundingsbana (I, II), Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, Guðrúnarkviða (I, II, III)

Non-Codex Regius (3)
Baldrs draumarGrottasǫngr, Hervararkviða

Other notable contents: None
Introduction page length: A revised edition (pp. ix—xi), preface to 1969 edition (pp. xi-xv), and an introduction by Celtic philologist Charles W. Dunn (pp. xv—xxvi)
Notes? Brief general notes at the end of every chapter
Dual Edition? No
Rendering: jǫtunn = "giant" (cf. p. 1), þurs = "demon, giant" (cf. p. 54, 55)
Bowlderization/censorship: No (cf. p. 55., p. 77 )
Original illustrations? None


I. SAMPLES

According to Terry’s preface to 1969 edition (and subsequently applicable in the 1989 edition), “Two poems, The Lay of Rig [Rígsþula] and The Song of Hyndla [Hyndluljóð], inferior in quality and preservation, have been omitted, as well as those sections of the Codex Regius which are entirely in prose, and occasional passages from other poems as noted.” (p. xiv).

As it happens, those “occasional passages” include the early stanza of Vǫluspá featuring Ymir. On the topic of this omission, Terry says that “Professor [Paul] Schah gives convincing reasons for deleting the reference to Ymir which occurs at the beginning of Völuspá in other editions."“ (p. 8—Terry here refers to a 1983 paper by Paul Schah’s 1983 (“Some Thoughts on Völuspá” as published in Robert J. Glendinning & Heraldur Bessason (editors). Edda. University of Manitoba Press.) Schach’s paper primarily consists of an altered and edited edition of the Vǫluspá (for example, “I have deleted Skuld, who is not a valkyrie, but the youngest of the norns …, and replaced her with Hildr, whose name means ‘battle’.”) Beyond Terry’s translation of the poem, Schach’s suggestions have not met with acceptance.

a.) Vǫluspá (p. x):

(Stanza not included in translation, see above)

b.) Helgakviða Hundingsbana II (p. 132):

Sigrun went into the barrow and said to Helgi:

“I am so hungry to be with you again
I feel like Odin’s hawks when they want food
and find warm bodies of warriors slain,
or see the day’s first light, sparkling with dew.

c.) Rígsþula (p. x):

(Poem not included in translation, see above)


II. Reviews

1. Thompson, Claiborne W. Review of first edition. Scandinavian Studies. Vol. 42, No. 3 (August 1970), pp. 363-365 (3 pages). Mixed review.

Sample quote:

Patricia Terry’s translation makes little attempt to acknowledge or reconcile conflicting view points, and does not issue new interpretations, with the result that the uninitiated reader is probably given a false sense of security … the real excellence of this translation lies in its style, for by adhering to the praiseworthy goal of keeping her text “simple and free from archaisms” Patricia Terry has produced a remarkably readable book.
 

2. Conant, Jonathan B. 1972. Review of first edition. The German Quarterly. Vol. 45, No. 4, Tribute to the Memory of Franz Grillparzer (Nov., 1972), pp. 782-784 (3 pages). Very negative review.

Sample quote:

The manner of which Mrs. Terry’s sitting to work is most unclear, and this unfortunately tends to render her competence as a translator of Old Norse very suspect … Mrs. Terry’s criteria for translation are equally disturbing. Dunn comments that her rendition “imitates the effects of the original” … but she explicitly disavows even the attempt to do so. It is clear that the translation seeks little more than to convey the mood of the original … from these few examples it will have become obvious that Mrs. Terry’s book will not be useful to anyone who wants to get inside Eddic poetry.

III. OBSERVATIONs

While Patricia Terry’s edition includes a rare translation of Hervararkviða, her translation most clearly suffers from the decision to exclude material widely included in essentially every other English translation of the Poetic Edda published by an academic (especially the poems Rígsþula and Hyndluljóð).

Other choices made by the translator, such as the decision to alter Vǫluspá under the influences of Schah’s theories, also present significant problems for students of the text, and raises questions about other decisions Terry makes throughout (see Conant’s review above highly consequential rendering decisions and mistakes throughout the text of the first edition).

A third major issue stems from thin notes: The translator’s decision to limit her notes to small sections at the end of every chapter further restricts the utility of Terry’s translation when compared to other editions, something that the translations of . (For further discussion on these topics, see discussion in various sections above.)