He would also delight his high school friends by reciting from Beowulf, Pearl, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and recounting "horrific episodes from the Norse Volsungasaga
, with a passing gibe at Wagner whose interpretation of the myths he held in contempt" (Carpenter 46).
In the Icelandic Volsungasaga
Sigurd discovers that his mythic status has preceded him when he observes tapestries woven by Brynhild that record his previous adventures.
Roberts explains that, while Tolkien was working on The Hobbit, he was also working with the Volsungasaga
and wrote his own version of it, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun.
One thinks of Sigurd in Volsungasaga
and Siegfried in Das Nibelungenlied; both heroes killed a dragon (serpent), inadvertently tasted the juice emanating from the roasting heart, and then understood the language of the birds.
Analysis of the women in The Wife's Lament, Wulf and Eadwacer, Beowulf, and Volsungasaga elucidates the political implications of such exchanges.
Such portrayals feature prominently in the following works: The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, both elegies that are preserved in the ninth-century Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book; Beowulf, composed some time between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century; and Volsungasaga, an Icelandic text recorded in the thirteenth century but concerned with material substantially older, some of which is preserved in the Old Norse Poetic Edda.
Similarly, a burned thumb brings knowledge to the Welsh character Taliesin, and moreover this motif is a persistent feature in the legends surrounding Sigurd, including Fafnismal -- ia which Sigurd bums his thumb on the cooked heart of the dragon Fafnir -- Volsungasaga
, Snorra Edda, and Thidrekssaga.(10) I do not mean to suggest that the possible allusioa to this idiom in Heile van Beersele derives directly from any of these early tales, for specific correspondences and contexts are obviously lacking.
Armann Jakobson's "Talk to the Dragon: Tolkien as Translator" brings out an uncanny aspect of the dialogue between Bilbo and Smaug through both a consideration of the dragon Fafnir in the Volsungasaga
and a slight touch of Freud in the obvious rebirth imagery with which the repeated journeys through narrow underground tunnels and escapes from them confronts a reader of The Hobbit.