The inspiration for modern works as diverse as Wagner's Ring Cycle and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Snorri Sturlson's The Prose Edda is a collection of pagan tales that are among the most influential of all myths and legends, translated with notes and an introduction by Jesse Byock in Penguin Modern Classics. The Prose Edda is the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. Written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, it tells ancient stories of the Norse creation epic and recounts the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. It also preserves the oral memory of heroes, warrior kings and queens. In clear prose interspersed with powerful verse, the Edda provides unparalleled insight into the gods' tragic realization that the future holds one final cataclysmic battle, Ragnarok, when the world will be destroyed. This translation by Jesse Byock captures the strength and subtlety of the original, while his introduction sets the tales fully in the context of Norse mythology. This edition also contains notes and appendices.
Snorri Sturlson (1179-1241) was an Icelandic descendant of the poet and hero from Egil's Saga, Egill Skallgrimsson. He was the best-known writer of the saga, author of The Prose Edda, which was written as a textbook for young poets who wished to praise kings, and Heimskringla, a history of the kings of Norway, the most important prose collection in Old Norse literature. If you enjoyed The Prose Edda, you might like Beowulf, also available in Penguin Classics.