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The Song of the Nibelungs - Illustrated

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The Song of the Nibelungs - A BOOK THAT INSPIRED TOLKIEN

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Pages: 330
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Color: Black and White
ISBN: 978-1925110036
Publication Date: 2018
Trim Size: 152mm x 229mm (6" x 9")

Translated by Margaret Armour, previously published as ‘The Fall of the Nibelungs’ in 1897, illustrated by W.B. MacDougall.


This thirteenth century Germanic epic greatly inspired J.R.R. Tolkien. The story tells of the betrayal of the fair and fearless dragon-slayer Siegfried, and of his beautiful wife's terrible revenge. 

Scholars have noted the influence of its pre-Christian heroic motifs, based on historic events and people of the 5th and 6th centuries, on Tolkien’s writing of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’.

Tolkien was aged five when this sumptuously illustrated translation by Margaret Armour was published in London. Undoubtedly a copy of it would have fallen into his hands during his boyhood.  It contains more than seventy illustrations and hand-drawn ornate capital letters by renowned artist W.B. MacDougall, whose pictures illuminate the text with their delicate beauty. All are reproduced in this edition. MacDougall was a friend of famous art nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, and his own creations echo Beardsley’s flowing lines.

Armour uses an archaic form of English to preserve the high-flown style of the epic. In places, in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, Tolkien too employs this solemn, dignified and majestic form - reminiscent of the language of the King James Bible. In her introduction, Dart-Thornton points out a number of interesting links between this saga and Tolkien’s work.

Drenched in blood and tragedy, heroism and honour, beauty and nobility, this story gives us a glimpse into the literature that helped form Tolkien’s imagination, leading to his most popular work –  ‘The Lord of the Rings’.


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