Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Dwarves

The dwarves in The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien have very interesting names, and many of them rhyme with each other or start with the same sound. After finding similar names in stories about Iceland, I wondered where these names came from and if Tolkien made them up.

Christopher Tolkien (son of J.R.R Tolkien) said, "It is at any rate well-known that he derived the names of the dwarves in The Hobbit  from the first of the poems in the Edda, the Völuspá. 'the prophecy of Sibyl' "

 The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems about Norse mythology and legends (Wikipedia: Poetic Edda).

Although the names are from The Poetic Edda, I found the names (or similar ones) in The Prose Edda, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jean I. Young. In this tale, the names are listed as the names of dwarves.

Names from The Prose Edda  (page 41-42) that correspond to/are very similar to that of a dwarf in The Hobbit:


These names are in the order they appear in The Prose Edda. The only dwarf member of Thorin's Company whose name is not in the list is Balin. 

The name "Fundin" also appears in the list and in The Lord of the Rings, we learn that this is the name of Balin's father.

"Eikinskjaldi" is a dwarf from The Prose Edda, and his name means, "With-oak-shield" (41). In The Hobbit, we have "Thorin Oakenshield." Interesting that!
The principle wizard in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is named "Gandalf." The name "Ganndálf" appears in the list of dwarves in The Prose Edda and means "sorcerer-elf" (41).

Book Sources:

Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda. Trans. Jean I. Young. University of California Press, Los Angeles: 1954

J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins: 2009

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