Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sigurd the Volsung and Charlotte Mason

Sometimes a book is not all in its title.  Ask any homeschool parent who's tried to find a good copy of Heidi, or an unbutchered version of Robinson Crusoe, or who has muddled through the various translations of Pinocchio.

I mean, this is Cinderella.  Right?
This is Peter Pan.
And this is Ambleside Online's recommended edition of Pinocchio.

Or maybe this?
All right, let's be serious.

But it's not even as simple as going to the other extreme--looking for the longest, most authentic, smallest-print edition out there.  Sometimes--just sometimes--what the Parents' Union School used is a surprise.  Here's one example:  In Programme 92 (first term of 1922), the Form III students (middle school-ish) were asked to read "Sigurd the Volsung* by W. Morris (Longmans, 2/-)."  W. Morris is William Morris, that William Morris.
Okay.  Sigurd the Volsung is not something I'm familiar with, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.  Some connections there--yes, I do know something about the German version of the story--Wagner, Siegfried, the opera Rush went to see in The Saturdays, the big dragon and all that.  I looked closer at the summary of Sigurd, and...well, my goodness, besides sounding very long, there is also a lot of rather earthy stuff in there.  This is what seventh graders in 1922 were supposed to read?

I browsed through some book listings for sale, new and used; looked up William Morris's books on Project Gutenberg; found it all a bit intimidating.  The idea of reading Sigurd for school did not appear to have much to recommend it.

Then I looked at the Longman's edition on Archive.org.  It's from a series called Longman's Class-Books of English Literature.  The title page explains it all:  "With portions condensed into prose by Winifred Turner, B.A., and Helen Scott, M.A."

So that's  how they did it.  It's like a version of Shakespeare that includes a lot of the original text, but summarizes scenes here and there.  The text is still 126 pages long, but I assume that's somewhat shorter than the original.  There's a glossary at the end too.

All right--that we could do.

And that's why, sometimes, knowing a little detail like the publisher of a book can make all the difference.
They are gone — the lovely, the mighty, the hope of the ancient Earth :
It shall labour and bear the burden as before that day of their birth.
                    *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Ye have heard of Sigurd aforetime, how the foes of God he slew ;
How forth from the darksome desert the Gold of the Waters he drew ;
How he wakened Love on the Mountain, and wakened Brynhild the

And dwelt upon Earth for a season and shone in all men's sight.
Ye have heard of the Cloudy People, and the dimming of the day,
And the latter world's confusion, and Sigurd gone away.


Nancy Kelly said...

I love this detective work. Fascinating.


Jeanne said...

How very interesting. So, are you going to use it?

Mama Squirrel said...

Maybe for Year 7, in the fall. It depends partly on how well this term goes.