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.

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