AUTHOR:   Anatoly Liberman 
 
TITLE: 
In Prayer and Laughter. Essays on Medieval Scandinavian and Germanic Mythology, Literature, and Culture
 
PUBLISHER: 
Paleograph Press
 
YEAR:   Moscow, 2016
 
LANGUAGE:   English
 
ISBN:  978-5-89526-027-2
 
FORMAT:   17 × 24.6 cm
 
PAPER:   Offset paper, 80 gram
 
COVER:   Hardcover with dust jacket

PAGES:   588 pages

WEIGHT:   1.3 kg / 2.8 lbs

PRICE:   Europe: 63.00 Euro, including surface mail shipment (delivery within two weeks)

USA & Canada: US $ 68.00, including air mail shipment (delivery within two weeks)




***

In Prayer and Laughter. Essays on Medieval Scandinavian and Germanic Mythology, Literature, and Culture is the culmination of a lifelong study of the Middle Ages by Anatoly Liberman, an internationally acclaimed medievalist and linguist. It contains an introduction, 21 chapters of different length, a bibliography, and indexes. The book opens with a bird’s-eye view of the state of comparative mythology and proceeds with an analysis of the most important questions confronting a student of Germanic and Scandinavian religion. In his exposition, be it the characters of the Scandinavian gods, the creatures of lower mythology (such as dwarfs, trolls, and all kinds of devils), the nature of ancient rituals (such as initiation), shamanism, the origin of the runic alphabet, or the function of mythic animals, Liberman combines attention to detail with a broad view of the medieval world. His keen interest in the large picture is noticeable at every step, and he never loses sight of the methodological aspects the humanities pose (the use of structuralism beyond linguistics, among others), the idiosyncrasies of “the medieval mind,” and the limits of reconstruction.

Since the author feels equally at home in mythology, linguistics, and literature, his book can be called philological in the best sense of the word. His studies on the prehistory of religious concepts, etymology, and the origin of folk beliefs go all the way from the “career” of the greatest Scandinavian god to the development of the sense of humor and the psychology of the medieval narrator. Every chapter contains an exhaustive treatment of everything said on the chosen subject and offers an original, often controversial solution of the problem.

This book will be interesting to students of Germanic, particularly Scandinavian, and Indo-European culture and to everybody who would like to know how the mentality of the Germanic speaking people developed over time. The bibliography that covers the scholarly literature for two centuries will become an invaluable source of information to wide circles of scholars, while detailed indexes will give them immediate access to the problems under discussion. Those include not only what the titles of individual chapters promise but also references to such names as Shakespeare, Dickens, and many others, whose appearance in a book on medieval themes could not be expected.

Anatoly Liberman, born and educated in the former Soviet Union, has been a professor of Germanic philology at the University of Minnesota since 1975, where he has taught all the Old Germanic languages and literatures. As a graduate student, he studied phonology under the guidance of M.  I. Steblin-Kamenskij but soon added medieval literature to his area of expertise. He was the editor of the first translation of Beowulf into Russian. In the United States, he also became active in folklore, poetic translation, and literary criticism. He is the author of nearly 600 publications. Among his most important books are Germanic Accentology: The Scandinavian Languages, Word Origins… and How We Know Them, An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction, a three volume edition of N. S. Trubetzkoy’s works, annotated translations of Lermontov’s and Tyutchev’s poetry, and two award winning books: an edition of Vladimir Propp’s works on the history and theory of folklore and A Bibliography of English Etymology.


Table of Contents:

Introduction: My Path to and Around Mythology.
13



PART ONE: DEITIES AND DESTINY

Chapter 1: Óðinn’s Path to Greatness.
23
1. Some Methodological Remarks.
23
2. The Distant Origin of Óðinn.
30
3. The Interpretatio Romana.
33
4. Óðinn’s Name.
36
a. The nature of the problem.
36
b. Óðinn and the wind.
37
c. Óðinn and vātēs.
39
d. The suffix Wodan ~ Óðinn. Vātēs again.
41
e. A few marginal etymologies.
44
f. The state of the art: A bird’s eye view of the etymology and summing up.
47
g. Some clues to the etymology of Óðinn’s name.
48
5. Óðinn on a Tree.
51
a. Drasill and Yggdrasill.
53
b. The development of the myth. Its antiquity. Óðinn and shamanism. Óðinn and Christianity. Óðinn as initiate. Óðinn and the runes.
65
6. From *Wōðanaz to Óðinn.
75

Chapter 2: Óðinn’s Silent Son Víðarr.
87

Chapter 3: Óðinn’s Berserks in Myth and Human Berserks in Reality.
101

Chapter 4: Þórr and the Pig: The Meaning of Hlórriði.
113

Chapter 5: Þórr’s Servant Þjalfi.
123

Chapter 6: Loki Confronts His Past: Loki and Útgarða-Loki.
142
1. At Útgarðaloki’s.
142
a. The Material.
142
b. The Trustworthiness of Snorri’s and Saxo’s Tales.
145
c. Where Is Útgarðr?
150
d. The Purpose of the Journey.
152
e. Who is Útgarðaloki?
153
2. Loki and Útgarðaloki.
155
a. Loki as a Chthonian Deity.
157
b. Loki as a Trickster, as Personified Evil, and Some Other Theories.
160
3. Loki’s Name and an Attempt at a Reconstruction.
175
1. Loki and Other Mythological Beings.
175
a. Loki and Vulcānus.
175
b. Loki and Lugos.
176
c. Loki and Louhi.
177
d. Loki and Lox.
177
e. Loki and Lucifer.
177
f. A Few Concluding Remarks.
178
2. Loki as a Diminutive Form of Some Other Name.
179
3. Loki and Logi.
182
4. Loki and the Word for ‘Spider’.
183
5. Loki and a Few Similar Sounding Words.
184
a. Loki and the Verb lokka.
184
b. Loki and Words for ‘wolf’ and ‘light / lux’.
185
c. Etymological Legerdemain.
186
6. Loki and the Verb lúka < *leug ‘bend’. A Retrospective Glance at Loki’s Career.>
188
Postscript: How Loki Laufeyjar Son Lived Up to His Name.
195

Chapter 7: Darkness Engulfs Baldr.
197
1. Introduction.
197
2. The Myth.
198
Saxo’s version.
198
Snorri’s version.
199
3. Baldr and His Opponent.
200
4. Baldr and the Mistletoe.
208
a. A Plant or a Sword?.
208
b. The Whereabouts of the Mistletoe, and Why the Mistletoe?
209
5. Father and Son. Who Killed Baldr and Why?
221
6. Baldr’s Death and the Gods’ Grief. Baldr and Fertility (Vegetation).
227
7. Baldr’s Funeral and the Insoluble Riddle. The Revenge.
233
8. Conclusion: The Development of the Myth of Baldr.
239
Supplement: Baldr’s Name.
241
1. Introduction.
241
2. Before Jacob Grimm.
242
3. Jacob Grimm.
243
4. Variations on Grimm’s Themes. OI Baldr and OI baldr ~ OE bealdor? ‘lord’.
245
5. Edward Schröder’s Etymology of Baldr.
247
6. Some Marginal Etymologies and Interpretations of Baldr.
251
7. Baldr and Ba’al Again.
256
8. Conclusion.
259

Chapter 8: The Enigmatic God Lytir.
261

Chapter 9: Scyld Scefing Departs from This World.
270

Chapter 10: Making a Human Sacrifice (the Germanic Verb *sendan).
279

Chapter 11: Gothic gawairþi ‘peace’ and the Gentle Fate of the Teutons.
291



PART TWO: BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH

Chapter 12: The True Stature of Mythological Dwarfs.
303

Chapter 13: Trolls and Trolldom.
320

Chapter 14: Ragman and a Bunch of Eurasian Devils.
330

Chapter 15: Two Heavenly Animals: the Goat Heiðrún and the Hart Eikþyrnir.
337

Chapter 16: The Primordial Cow Auðhumla.
347



PART THREE: ON THE EARTH

Chapter 17: The Emergence of the Runes.
355
1. The Origin of the Word rune.
355
2. The Origin of Lat. elementum.
366
3. Rune, elementum, and futhark.
378

Chapter 18: At the Feet of the King and Elsewhere: Þulr and Þyle.
386

Chapter 19: The Origin of the Name Edda.
395

Chapter 20: Germanic Laughter and the Development of the Sense of Humor.
406

Chapter 21: In Lieu of the Conclusion: The Limited World of the Medieval Narrator.
430
1. The Organization of Narrative Space (and Time).
430
2. Character Delineation and the Organization of Plot.
435
3. The Formulaic Mind and Authorship.
339

Notes.
442

Abbreviations.
455

Bibliography.
465

Subject Indexes.
551

Words Discussed in Detail.
558

Name Indexes.
559


Sample Downloads:

in Prayer & Laughter.pdf [184 kilobytes]:

  • Title pages (p. 1–4);
  • Table of Contents (p. 5–8);
  • Chapter 3: Óðinn’s Berserks in Myth and Human Berserks in Reality (p. 101–113)

   



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