Author; Sheena McGrath
Njord and Skadi: A Myth Explored delves into the story of the Norse giantess Skadi and her unhappy marriage to the sea-god Njord. As compensation, after the gods killed her father, Skadi is given a choice of husbands from among the gods, but she has to choose by looking at just their feet. She chooses the finest-looking feet, believing them to belong to Baldr, but finds to her dismay that she chose the Vanir god Njord instead. Not surprisingly, the marriage does not work out, and they each return to their respective domains, with Skadi keeping her status as a goddess.
The author, Sheena McGrath, presents this book as a series of questions, using the story to open up the world of Norse myth and culture. She goes beyond the bare narrative by providing a wide perspective both on how myths work and some of the interesting theoretical questions raised in the study of mythology. Even simple questions, like why Skadi had to choose her husband by his feet alone, are shown to open up all sorts of mythological perspectives from Cinderella to medieval penitents to interpretations of myth in the 19th century.
Drawing on her extensive study of mythology the author also addresses many other important questions, including:
Asgard, Jötunheim, Midgard: Where Are They?
Are there any stories similar to this myth?
Why do the Gods and Giants Interact at all?
Who are the Vanir?
Why is Njord so passive?
Why is Loki so vulgar?
Influenced by the work of the scholar Margaret Clunies-Ross, who views the conflict between the gods and giants anthropologically, as a battle over resources, access to women, and power, this book does not start from the assumption that the giants are evil or stupid but treats them every bit as seriously as the gods. In this groundbreaking study, McGrath encourages the reader to question received wisdom, explore Norse mythology and its goddesses, and deepen their understanding of the ‘how and why’ of myth.