Epics and Sagas

AuthorTopic: Epics and Sagas
Agent
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Hello all,
Sometimes I like to read epic tales, ballads, sagas, etc. I have read the Iliad, Odyssey, Aenaeid, Eddas and a few others.
I am going to start on The Tales of Heike which would be the other major clan than the Genji in Japan.
Anybody have any epics to recommend out there-- Song of Roland, etc. which are worth reading.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
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Sure:

The Epic of Gilgamesh (John Gardner translation is most accurate, David Ferry translation most poetic)

The Tain (Epic story of Irish cattle raid c. 1st century A.D.)

The Mabinogion (Welsh--not really an Epic, more like a series of really cool legends)

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser--I recommend Books 1 and 3 to start with--book 2 is rather turgid. Then 4 and 5 are good too.

Milton--Paradise Lost. He was trying to revive the classical epic in a modern, English form, so if you've read the classical epics, you will already be familiar with the conventions he uses, like Epic Similes, the Invocation to the Muse, etc.

I could probably think of more if you want more.

Guess this is what 5 years of English grad school gets you.

:rolleyes:

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Beowulf, havent read it myself, but much of Tolkiens work is inspired by it.

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Michael Moorcock: Elric, Hawkmoon, Erekose and Corum

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Beowulf, yes. And also John Gardner's rewriting of it from Grendel's perspective (appropriately titled "Grendel").

Dante's Inferno is entertaining and foundational as well--forgot about that one the first time around.

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"What we can say with confidence is that Rome fell gradually--and that Romans, for many decades, scarcely noticed what was happening."

--Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization
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Inferno may be the most interesting part of it, but you might as well read the whole Divine Comedy if you're reading Dante.

There's always the Hindu epics, too, the Ramayana and such.

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The Nibelungenlied and Moby Dick
Are two works whose respective girths are thick.

PS- What the hell are grad students doing, wasting their time with this dust-covered, phallocentric rubbish?

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Warrior
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I dont know if you guys call these epic or not, but ;)

The entire Lord of the Rings series, by JRR Tolkien

The entire Incarnations of Immortality series by Piers Anthony

And if you want a laugh...

The Cartoon History of the World by Larry Gonick, all three volumes.
Posts: 125 | Registered: Friday, February 13 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
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An epic is not what is commonly (mis) labeled as "epic fantasy." Tolkien did not write epics, although his works were certainly informed by epics. Piers Anthony certainly doesn't write epics, and I also happen to think he is a blight upon the literate world (but that's another story). I haven't read anything by Moorcock, but I'd bet his books are fantasy and not epic, too.

—Alorael, who is reasonably certain that cartoons can't be epics. He is positive that novels can't be. If you can call a book a novel, it's not an epic.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
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What about "Ramses" by Christian Jacq?

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Nothing is important to me ___ ___ ___ ___ __ And nobody nowhere understands anything
About me and all my dreams lost at sea ___ __ But we’re not the same, we’re different tonight
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The impossible is possible tonight ___ ____ ___ Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight

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I understand they dont count as "epics"...

But they're good books IMO anyway ;)
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I would like to put forward the Desperance translation for the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
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I would ask, but I have a hunch that the answer would be violating the CoC.

Still...

What is the Desperance translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh?

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An interpretation with just enough historical accuracy to make it disturbing on multiple levels.

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Most good fantasy writing is on some level based on epics. Keith Laumer-- Odyssey. John Gardner-- Grendel, The Dark Tower-- Stephen King (Song of Roland). Fantasy writing is not however epic.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Toasted Marshmallows:

Most good fantasy writing is on some level based on epics.
That's not quite true. Most of the books marketed as "epic" fantasy are based directly or indirectly on epics stories and form, though not necessarily on specific essays. The more they diverge from this, the less epic or less good they become.

Not all good fantasy is epic, though (arguably, of course!). There is Perdido Street Station-style fantasy (or sci-fi, maybe) that has nothing to do with epics. Yes, most fantasy authors stick to the epic mold, but there are those who try to break out of it, often with the result of making people unsure which genre the book belongs in.

[Edit: Plural with an apostrophe? The end is nigh!]

—Alorael, who would say most "gritty" fantasy tends to lean away from the epic for obvious reasons. A great deal of that isn't good, but it's no worse than epic fantasy on average, and the good books aren't epic.

[ Tuesday, February 15, 2005 17:57: Message edited by: Ser sin rumbo cierto ]
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
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The Bible?

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I'm tired of the strain and the pain ___ ___ ___ I feel the same, I feel nothing
Nothing is important to me ___ ___ ___ ___ __ And nobody nowhere understands anything
About me and all my dreams lost at sea ___ __ But we’re not the same, we’re different tonight
We’ll make things right, we’ll feel it all tonight _ The indescribable moments of your life tonight
The impossible is possible tonight ___ ____ ___ Believe in me as I believe in you, tonight

Go All Blacks xtraMSN Rugby _ MuggleNet
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Ah, Perdido Street. Fine book.

Anyway, Toasted: You can give a try to the Elder Edda poems, which are mighty fine. If you feel like it, you can read El Cid. There are a few cool Russian and Arabian epics which my brain refuses to collaborate by giving me the memory of their names.

Oh, and more modern stuff. . . most of the things that pass for Epic fantasy nowadays are more modern than based on anything medieval, anyway.

But, there are a couple of books am very fond of, fantasy (not quite epic EPIC but kind of satiric epic, well, they are just quirky and different) by an author which unfortunately you can't find in bookstores (unless they are used book stores) called Avran Davidson. I'm referring to Peregrinus: Primus and Peregrinus: Secundus

You can also check by the same master, Marco Polo and the Sleeping Beauty which is just wonderful.

There's this guy called Jack Vance which I'm too biased for since he is my favorite writer, but I think I can recommend without being too badly criticize for doing so the following: The Lyonesse Trilogy (Lyonesse, Green Pearl, Madouc) Yes, they are modern, but, man, they are awesome (but, again, I'm biased)

Hmmm. I guess Lord Dunsany, but he is more in the fairy tale side of things, Queen of Elfland daughter may (perhaps, possibly) be considered epic. Anyway, it's old and dense. Very dense.

And, if I remember the names of the Russian Epics I'm thinking about, or the Arabian ones, I'll post again.

Happy reading!

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quote:

"I suffer from spiritual malaise," said Cugel meaningfully. "which manifest itself in outburst of vicious rage. I implore you to depart, lest, in an uncontrollable spasm, I cut you in three pieces with my sword, or worse, I invoke magic."
Random Jack Vance Quote Manual Generator Apparatus (Cugel's Saga)
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The Faerie Queen got to me. I was looking cross eyed after page 100. Turgid...

I just finished something a bit interesting-- The Book of Dede Korkut -- A Turkish epic. Grab your black steel sword and multicolored 60 span lance. Very poetic and bloody.

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

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quote:
Toasted said
The Faerie Queen got to me. I was looking cross eyed after page 100. Turgid...
Yup. Dunsany can have that effect. He's one tough guy to read.

This is not quite subject related, but if anybody out there likes Tolkien, I recommend you this book:

"The Road to Middle Earth" by T.A. Shippey. Brilliant book. It describes the different sources from where Tolkien based many of his ideas. Wonderfully knowledgeable. If you like literatury history, philology, and, of course, Tolkien, then this may prove to be a treat.

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quote:

"I suffer from spiritual malaise," said Cugel meaningfully. "which manifest itself in outburst of vicious rage. I implore you to depart, lest, in an uncontrollable spasm, I cut you in three pieces with my sword, or worse, I invoke magic."
Random Jack Vance Quote Manual Generator Apparatus (Cugel's Saga)
Posts: 604 | Registered: Sunday, June 20 2004 07:00
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Hmm. If you really love myth fantasy which I do very much. The Mythopoeic Society has an excellent list of award winners. They are focused on a group of writers called The Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and one other person.

This is a link to their award winners:

Award Winners

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Wasting your time and mine looking for a good laugh.

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quote:
Originally written by The Absolut Sagacious stranger:

The Bible?
I suppose it could be described as an epic, I'm not sure though.

[ Wednesday, February 23, 2005 10:04: Message edited by: Brenitt-Ihrno ]

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An epic typically focuses on the story of an invidiual or a single group of people. Parts of the Bible could be considered epics if they were seperated from their context, I suppose.
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A good book (or 10) to read is the Belgaraid (I think thats the spelling)and the Mallorean , both by David Edddings. Its best if you read the Belgaraid first. Also, if you liked them, there are two books that go with it - Polgara the Sorceress and Belgarath the Socerer.
Also, I suggest the Harry Potter series.

[ Thursday, February 24, 2005 17:00: Message edited by: Spring ]

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For anyone interested in an excellent re-telling of the King Arthur legend, I suggest Firelord by Parke Godwin.

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