Runes (Reading the Past)


Series: Reading the Past
Author: R.I. Page
Publisher:University of California Press and the British Museum
Published: 2007 (Fifth edition, Originally published in 1987)

Synopsis: In Orkney, Shetland and the Scottish Islands, in Ireland, the Isle of Man and above all in Scandinavia, travelers still come upon great memorial stones, inscribed with the curious angular alphabet called runes. This is the story of these inscriptions from the earliest Continental carvings of the late second century A.D. through to the Viking age.

Review: This is one of the shortest books I’ve read, and one of the most sarcastic (not in a good way). The author comes across as very condescending towards people who see the Runes as a magical system. Let me say this, while I do agree with the author’s point that since religion is a part of everyday life for the peoples he talks about and so that makes using the Runic alphabet as a vehicle of writing down sacred things, incantations or even use it for divination a normal part of life for them, I don’t agree wit his attitude or tone of voice but that is my bias and certainly not his problem. Having said that though, this is actually a very good and concise introduction to Runes IF you can get over the tone of the writer. The 64 pages of this book took me two days to get through when it would normally take me only half an hour to an hour tops.

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