The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

From Tolkien Gateway
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún
Publication Information
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released5 May 2009
FormatHardcover; paperback; deluxe edition
Preceded byThe Children of Húrin (2007)
Followed byThe Fall of Arthur (2013)

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a book containing two narrative poems and related texts composed by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was published in 2009.

The two poems that make up most of the book were probably written during the 1930s, and were inspired by the legend of Sigurd and the fall of the Niflungs in Norse mythology. Both poems are in a form of alliterative verse. Christopher Tolkien has added copious notes and commentary to the work.


The book contains two long poems: The New Lay of the Völsungs and The New Lay of Gudrún, with commentaries by Christopher Tolkien.

The book also includes two shorter, related poems in Old English and an "Introduction to the 'Elder Edda'" (based on lecture manuscripts) by J.R.R. Tolkien.


Excerpt from the original manuscript
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
    • The "Elder Edda" by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Introductory notes
  • Völsungskviða en nýja ("The New Lay of the Völsungs")
    • Upphaf (Beginning)
    • I. Andvari's Gold
    • II. Signý
    • III. The Death of Sinfjötli
    • IV. Sigurd Born
    • V. Reign
    • VI. Brynhild
    • VII. Gudrún
    • VIII. Brynhild Betrayed
    • IX. Strife
  • Commentary on Völsungskviða en nýja
  • Guðrúnarkviða en nýja ("The New Lay of Gudrún")
  • Commentary on Guðrúnarkviða en nýja
  • Appendices
    • A. A Short Account of the Origins of the Legend
    • B. The Prophecy of the Sibyl
    • C. Fragments of a Heroic Poem of Attila in Old English

From the publisher

The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the epic story of the Norse hero, Sigurd, the dragon-slayer, the revenge of his wife, Gudrún, and the Fall of the Nibelungs.

“Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version, now published for the first time, of the great legend of Northern antiquity, in two closely related poems to which he gave the titles The New Lay of the Völsungs and The New Lay of Gudrún.
In the Lay of the Völsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir most celebrated of dragons, whose treasure he took for his own; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood. In that court there sprang great love but also great hate, brought about by the power of the enchantress, mother of the Niflungs, skilled in the arts of magic, of shape-changing and potions of forgetfulness.
In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrún his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd at the hands of his blood-brothers, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrún. In the Lay of Gudrún her fate after the death of Sigurd is told, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers the Niflung lords, and her hideous revenge.
Deriving his version primarily from his close study of the ancient poetry of Norway and Iceland known as the Poetic Edda (and where no old poetry exists, from the later prose work the Völsunga Saga), J.R.R. Tolkien employed a verse-form of short stanzas whose lines embody in English the exacting alliterative rhythms and the concentrated energy of the poems of the Edda.”

Relation to the legendarium

While The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is naturally not directly connected to the stories of Arda and Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien notes a few related concepts which occur in the work:

A few other concepts also found in this work, from which Tolkien likely derived material for his legendarium, are worthy of note:

Publication history and gallery

UK editions
2009 hardcover
2009 hardcover  
2009 hardcover deluxe edition
2009 hardcover deluxe edition  
2010 paperback
2010 paperback  

External links

A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
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Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
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Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
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Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
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Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
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