Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Life Lessons from the Nibelungenlied

A year after I began, I'm halfway through The Nibelungenlied. It's not as if I've been reading it this whole time. I put it down and picked it up again a couple of weeks ago. It's not quite as satisfying as the Icelandic rendition of the same legend, The Volsungasaga. Nevertheless, I'm learning several important life lessons to store away for the future. After all, isn't that what great literature is for? So here are some of the lessons of The Nibelungenlied:

1- Always bathe in dragon's blood in the Spring or Summer, never in Autumn (falling leaves are a bad thing in such cases).

2- If another man asks you to beat up his wife because she doesn't love him, just say, "No."

3- If you do beat up his wife, don't take her ring and give it to your wife (that is, if you have any hope of your wives being good friends).

4- If everyone is going around everywhere whispering, and getting really quiet when you enter the room, you should worry.

5- If your wife sews your clothes, make sure she doesn't embroider any 'X's over the only part of your body that is not invulnerable.

These are the things I've gleaned so far. If I learn anything new, I shall duly report it.


Anonymous said…
I don't think it is a ring he takes.... I believe it is something much more, uh, "intimate", thus suggestive of domination in the bedroom. If a man not your husband were to be found to have been in possession of a certain undergarment, would it not be the ultimate insult to someone like Brunhilde?

That was always my understanding, and the one our professor explicated (and he spoke gaelic, german, norse, and the ancient nordic languages... he was very similar to Tolkien).

Rick said…
Interesting. Alas, I am bound by the translation, which was made in 1901, so I can definitely see how it may have been toned down a bit. I'll have to check the endnotes to see if it mentions this. Thanks for the insight!
Anonymous said…
David Hoffer was the leaver of the above message, and is me.

Sorry to have left out that fact. But yeah, I remember the word that was used in my translation: girdle.
Rick said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said…
Hey, Mary Beth guessed it was you when she saw the WDH, but I was skeptical. Guess she was right. I looked back in my copy and it does say that he took her ring and her girdle. I guess I had forgotten the girdle part since the cursed magic ring was the big part of the Volsungasaga.

On another note, how are you guys doing?
Anonymous said…
Well, thanks. Moving right along with life, etc.

Teaching still agrees with you, I see.

Erica said…
Words to live by. :D