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Eleazar M. Meletinsky, The Elder Edda and early forms of the epic, translated by Kenneth H. Ober (with Russian summary), 1998

This study of Germanic early epic formulaic style as reflected in the Elder Edda, by the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow) and member of the Russian Academy for the Humanities, Professor Eleazar M. Meletinsky, appeared in Russian as early as 1968 (»Edda« i rannie formy eposa) and is now made available to the Western scholarly world in Kenneth H. Ober's masterly English translation. It will make imperative reading for any student of the Edda as well as of Germanic poetry and early European epic in general. Professor Meletinsky provides a close typological analysis of the entire corpus of the Old Norse Poetic Edda in comparison with the epic works of other peoples, which reveals the folkloric basis of the Eddic Poems and their profound connections with the archaic forms of myth and epos of the Eurasian »Kulturkreis«, and, indeed, beyond, including even Oceania and the aboriginal songs of Australia. In method, scope and masterful command of a geographically and historically nearly unmeasurable vastness of evidence, professor Meletinsky's approach remains entirely independent from the so-called oral-formulaic school of the Parry-Lord type.

This adds to his results - the major of which being a revision of the old Heuslerian positivistic concept of epic poetry as the straightforward result of individual authorship (much indebted to Heusler's own individualistic aestheticism and that of his day) - much more momentum and bases the argument for the folkloric origins of epic style on safe statistical evidence, which one will find it hard to refute. - Some other books by Professor Meletinsky are: Geroy volshebnoy skazki (The Hero of the Magic Tale, 1958), Poetika mifa (The Poetics of the Myth, 1976; translated into eleven languages), Srednevekovyj roman ( The Medieval Romance, 1983), Istoricheskaja poetika novelly ( Historical Poetics of the Short Story, 1990), O literaturnykh arkhetipakh (On Literary Archetypes, 1994), and Dostoevskij v svete istoricheskoj poetiki (Dostoevsky in the Light of Historical Poetics, 1996). In addition, he has published many articles on comparative folklore and historical poetics. In 1972 he was awarded the International Prize Pitre, and in 1990 the State Prize of the USSR.

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