August 15th, 2012

raven

Book 108: Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt

Book 108: Ragnarok: The End of the Gods .
Author: A. S. Byatt, 2011.
Genre: Mythic. Norse. Period Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 177 pages.

Byatt brings her superb story-telling gifts to this edition within the Canongate Myths series; weaving a fictional autobiography of her wartime childhood together with the cosmology and myths of the Norse gods and the events leading to Ragnarok, the end of the gods.

I felt it served as a beautiful and inspiring introduction to the mythic cycle of Northern Europe. She utilises the narrative device of a child evacuated to the countryside during WWII, who is reading the stories of W. Wagner's Asgard and the Gods while deeply concerned about the war and the fate of her father, who is far away serving in North Africa. This creates a link between the myth cycle and the over-shadowing threat of war.

I found Ragnarok extremely rich in its imagery, especially of nature. My fondness for trickster gods was reinforced here by Loki's role. I was deeply moved throughout and it also brought up my own memories of childhood encounters with this rich mythic tradition.