New Tolkien Book: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

After a long and pretty nasty illness, I am back online to report – somewhat belatedly – some really exciting news!

A new Tolkien book is scheduled to be released in May 2009. HarperCollins will publish Tolkien’s retelling of the Völsunga saga, an Old Norse legend of bravery, dragon-slaying, treachery and love. Tolkien’s retelling is a work in verse on which he worked in the 1920s and 1930s. The book is to be titled The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, and it will be edited and introduced by Tolkien’s son Christopher.

Tolkien was fascinated by Old Norse myth and legend, and the Völsunga saga left its traces in his creative work, especially in the character of Túrin Turambar, whose story was told in full in the recently published The Children of Húrin. In my online course Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again (already started now, but due to run again in April) I devote a whole Unit on Tolkien’s creative uses of Old Norse mythological material, focusing on the Volsunga saga. Tolkien scholars have known for a long time of the existence of Tolkien’s verse retelling of the legend of Sigurd and the Volsungs, and its publication is eagerly awaited.

  • For more information on the new Tolkien book, including speculations on its contents and length, visit the

The Völsunga saga has been translated many times and there are numerous translations available to buy. However, one of the early translations of the saga is now in the public domain and you can access, download and read it free of charge. This is the 1888 translation by by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson.

The photograph of the carving of Sigurd slaying the dragon Fafnir comes from the 12th-century wooden panel of the Hylestad Stav Church, in Setesdal, Norway.

Exploring Tolkien: Online Tolkien Course runs again

First of all Happy New Year to all!

My online Tolkien course Exploring Tolkien: There and Back Again will run again for the second time this academic year, starting on 19 January 2009. There are still a few places left so if you want to enrol hurry up!

As a student on my online course you will have the opportunity to explore Tolkien’s Middle-earth from your home, in your own time. We will examine the vast mythology behind The Lord of the Rings and you will gain a thorough knowledge of Tolkien’s fiction and its creation by focusing on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. The course focuses on the northern European mythologies that inspired Tolkien’s Middle-earth, especially the creative uses of his sources in Old Norse mythology, Celtic myths and legends, Classical mythology, Shakespeare, and the literary tradition. You will also learn about Tolkien’s ‘invented languages’, their origins and sources, and you will be able to examine Tolkien’s work in its historical context through intellectual history, focusing on the ‘races’ and cultures of Middle-earth.

My online students will also have the opportunity to participate in a lively Discussion Board, which I will be moderating, and they will have full access to Cardiff University’s electronic resources (including such electronic journals as Tolkien Studies and Mythlore and a great number of e-book and reference collections). For those students who are already enrolled in academic programmes, there is the option of doing this course for credits to be used towards their Higher Education Qualifications.

I am also very happy to announce that the Centre for Lifelong Learning can now accept your enrolment and payment completely online!