Book Series The Pre-Christian Religions of the North

The Pre-Christian Religions of the North

Research and Reception, Volume II: From c. 1830 to the Present

Margaret Clunies Ross

  • Pages: xxiii + 635 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:9 b/w, 10 col., 4 tables b/w., 2 Musical Examples
  • Language(s):English, Old Norse
  • Publication Year:2019

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56880-5
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56882-9
  • E-book
  • Available

This book reveals the various ways people have understood or reacted to Scandinavian paganism from the Middle Ages to today.


“As a compendium of information on how people have received and utilized Old Norse religion, these volumes certainly satisfy. They represent important benchmarks in the field which will serve as useful reference points for any scholars working on the reception of the pre-Christian religions of Scandinavia. To Brepols’ credit, the quality of the printed volumes is high, with many chapters illustrated with color reproductions. Thus, any academic library with a collection on Old Norse studies, medievalism, reception studies, or the study of religion should seriously consider investing in these volumes—they will be of great use to scholars going forward.” (Ethan Doyle White, in Reading Religion, 29 July 2020) 


Over more than a thousand years since pre-Christian religions were actively practised, European – and later contemporary – society has developed a fascination with the beliefs of northern Europe before the arrival of Christianity, which have been the subject of a huge range of popular and scholarly theories, interpretations, and uses. Indeed, the pre-Christian religions of the North have exerted a phenomenal influence on modern culture, appearing in everything from the names of days of the week to Hollywood blockbusters. Scholarly treatments have been hardly less varied. Theories – from the Middles Ages until today – have depicted these pre-Christian religious systems as dangerous illusions, the works of Satan, representatives of a lost proto-Indo-European religious culture, a form of ‘natural’ religion, and even as a system non-indigenous in origin, derived from cultures outside Europe.

The Research and Reception strand of the Pre-Christian Religions of the North project establishes a definitive survey of the current and historical uses and interpretations of pre-Christian mythology and religious material, tracing the many ways in which people both within and outside Scandinavia have understood and been influenced by these religions, from the Christian Middle Ages to contemporary media of all kinds. The previous volume (I) traced the reception down to the early nineteenth century, while the present volume (II) takes up the story from c. 1830 down to the present day and the burgeoning of interest across a diversity of new as well as old media.


  • List of Illustrations
  • Abbreviations for Volume II
  • The Contributors

Introduction to Volume II — MARGARET CLUNIES ROSS

Part 1 The Later Grundtvig

  • 1.1 N. F. S. Grundtvig’s Use of Norse Mythology (1815-72) and its AftermathFLEMMING LUNDGREEN-NIELSEN

Part 2 The Influence of Cultural Milieu on the European Reception

  • 2.1 Germany 1650-1860CHRISTINA LEE
  • 2.2 Finns, Sámi and SwedesTHOMAS A. DUBOIS

Part 3 Studies of Norse Myth and Religion in the Nineteenth Century

  • 3.1 The Character of the New, Comparative ScholarshipMARGARET CLUNIES ROSS
  • 3.2 The Nineteenth-Century Emergence of Religionswissenschaft and its Impact on the study of the pre-Christian Religions of the NorthBERNHARD MAIER
  • 3.3 The Heavenly Mountains of Asia: Old Norse Religion and Comparative Religion ANNETTE LASSEN
  • 3.4 The Comparative Study of Celtic and Nordic ReligionsBERNHARD MAIER
  • 3.5 Nordic, Germanic, German: Jacob Grimm and the German Appropriation of Old Norse Religion and MythSIMON HALINK
  • 3.6 The Rise of Folklore StudiesJOHN LINDOW

Part 4 The Influence of Old Norse Myth on Music in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

  • 4.1 Wagner, the Ring and its influenceEDWARD HAYMES
  • 4.2 Scandinavian Myths in Nineteenth-century Opera and Choral Music BARBARA EICHNER
  • 4.3 The Music of Jón Leifs FLORIAN HEESCH

Part 5 The Reception in Theatre and Performance

  • 5.1 Theatre and Performance (1830-2012) TERRY GUNNELL AND SVEIN EINARSSON

Part 6 The Reception in Literature

  • 6.1.1 Literary Modernism and Old Norse MythKATJA SCHULZ
  • 6.1.2 Old Norse myth in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake CHRISTOPHER BLACK
  • 6.2 Old Norse Mythology in Anglophone Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1940 RANDI ELDEVIK
  • 6.3.1 Norse Medievalism in Children’s Literature in English DAVID CLARK
  • 6.3.2 Norse Mythology in Nordic Children’s Literature 1970-2012 —  ANNE-KARI SKARDHAMAR

Part 7 The Reception in Mass Culture

  • 7.1 Nordic Gods and Popular Culture JÓN KARL HELGASON

Part 8 The Reception in Modern and Contemporary Art

  • 8.1 Norse Myths in the Visual Arts of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries: A Short Catalogue Raisonné SARAH TIMME

Part 9 The Role of the pre-Christian Religions of the North in Modern National, Political and Religious Movements

  • 9.1 Old Norse Mythology and Heroic Legend in Politics, Ideology and Propaganda JULIA ZERNACK
  • 9.2 Germanic NeopaganismSTEFANIE VON SCHNURBEIN

Part 10 Modern Scholarship and Research as Reception

  • 10.1 On the Concept of ‘Germanic’ Religion and Myth JULIA ZERNACK
  • 10.2 Philological Studies of Nordic Religion from Árni Magnússon until TodayANNETTE LASSEN
  • 10.3 The Social Turn: The pre-Christian Religions of the North in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries MARGARET CLUNIES ROSS
  • 10.4 Pre-Christian Religions of the North: The Reception Now MARGARET CLUNIES ROSS
Index of Authors, Artists and Works

Index of Concepts