This is the first book I obtained from those cited as sources in the Introduction to Campbell’s ‘Popular Tales’ and its introduction is almost as interesting as Campbell’s. His assertions that Christianity is the one true faith as he’s also telling us how its Hell was derived from the Norse goddess Hel and that Christianity doesn’t suit our climate, I found to be quite funny:
“For those who fell on the gory battle-field, or sank beneath the waves, Valhalla was prepared, and endless mirth and bliss with Odin. Those went to Hel, who were rather unfortunate than wicked, who died before they could be killed. But when Christianity came in and ejected Odin and his crew of false divinities, declaring them to be lying gods and demons, then Hel fell with the rest; but fulfilling her fate, outlived them. From a person she became a place, and all the Northern nations, from Goth to the Norseman, agreed in believing Hell to be the abode of the devil and his wicked spirits, the place prepared from the beginning for the everlasting torments of the damned.One curious fact connected with this explanation of Hell’s origin will not escape the reader’s attention. The Christian notion of Hell is that of a place of heat, for in the East, whence Christianity came, heat is often an intolerable torment, and cold, on the other hand, everything that is pleasant and delightful. But to the dweller in the North, heat brings with it sensations of joy and comfort, and life without fire has a dreary outlook; so their Hel ruled in a cold region over those who were cowards by implication, while the mead-cup went round, and huge logs blazed and crackled in Valhalla, for the brave and beautiful who had dared to die on the field of battle. But under Christianity the extremes of heat and cold have met, and Hel, the cold uncomfortable goddess, is now our Hell, where flames and fire abound, and where the devils abide in everlasting flame.”
He does also deride the fundamentalists who don’t believe the world to be more than a few thousand years old. I may type up his introduction at some point but this was one of those purchased just so I could get context for the quotes cited by Campbell.
Sir G. W. Dasent (1862), ‘Popular Tales from the Norse’, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd., Front Cover.
Sir G. W. Dasent (1862), ‘Popular Tales from the Norse’, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd., Spine.
Sir G. W. Dasent (1862), ‘Popular Tales from the Norse’, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd., Author’s Portrait.