Book reviewEnglish Translations of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballads: An Analytical Guide and Bibliography Turku: The Nordic Institute of Folklore, 1995. x + 242 pp. ISBN 952-9724-11-X / 0355-8924 (NIF Publications, 30). .
Reviewed by Cay Dollerup
Table of contents
This is clearly a useful book for folklorists, scholars in comparative literature, teachers and students who can only approach Scandinavian ballads in English translations. It is certainly food for thought for translation scholars although the author makes this point somewhat awkwardly. Some can use it for guidance, others for enlightenment. The topic is important in terms of world literature: the Scandinavian, notably the Danish ballads constitute the largest treasury of ballads collected from among actual users throughout the world. This has been appreciated by so many people outside Scandinavia that "Ballad translations are the most important Danish literature in translation after H.C. Andersen and Kierkegaard" (p. 3). This has often been overlooked in bibliographical works of translations from the Scandinavian languages. Redressing this imbalance, this book records nearly 1800 ballad translations including reprints, but yet concludes that "despite the enormous translation effort expended, the power of the best ballads has rarely been captured" (p. 41).