A History of Old English Literature

A History of Old English Literature

Language: English

Pages: 360

ISBN: 1405121815

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This timely introduction to Old English literature focuses on the production and reception of Old English texts, and on their relation to Anglo-Saxon history and culture.

  • Introduces Old English texts and considers their relation to Anglo-Saxon culture.
  • Responds to renewed emphasis on historical and cultural contexts in the field of medieval studies.
  • Treats virtually the entire range of textual types preserved in Old English.
  • Considers the production, reception and uses of Old English texts.
  • Integrates the Anglo-Latin backgrounds crucial to understanding Old English literature.
  • Offers very extensive bibliographical guidance.
  • Demonstrates that Anglo-Saxon studies is uniquely placed to contribute to current literary debates.













evidence is less flexible, though it is far less certain than the evidence for the Anglian composition of most poems. This evidence is chiefly metrical, e.g. monosyllabic scansion of originally monosyllabic words like tācen ‘sign’ and wuldor ‘glory’ and dissyllabic scansion of contracted forms like sēon ‘see’ and nīor ‘nearer’. In general, poems that scholars once for the most part agreed were early are rich in such metrical archaisms, while poems presumed to be later are not.55 Plainly, evidence

peculiar form the Vercelli Book has been likened to a florilegium (medieval anthology or collection of excerpts: Gatch 1977: 57; Ó Carragáin 1981: 66–7), but in any case among manuscripts of homilies there is nothing comparable in form from England or the Continent up to this time. The chief Latin sources are the homilist Caesarius of Arles (d. 542) and a version of the St. Père homiliary (see above), though in addition to the other sources already mentioned, direct or indirect use is made of

may condense and summarize their Latin sources (especially Ælfric’s LS), but they do not add to them, whereas the former contain some arresting additions – for example, in Elene, the battle scene between Constantine and the Huns (109–52) and Elene’s voyage to the “land of the Greeks” (Judaea, 225–63). Particularly in accretions like these, with obvious analogues in Beowulf, it is plain that versified material of all sorts is tinged by the conventions of heroic verse. The example of Grendel

Bischoff and Lapidge 1994: 14–37, Lapidge 1995a: 3–8, and Brock 1995. 4 None of the manuscripts of the Canterbury biblical commentaries contains the entire text. The most complete manuscript was found in Milan in 1936 by Bernhard Bischoff (ed. Bischoff and Lapidge 1994). Also see Löfstedt 2001, Contreni 2003 and Vaciago 2004. 5 Bede’s commentaries are edited in CCSL 118–21. Much has been written about Bede as an exegete: for some recent scholarship, see G. Brown 2006a, 2006b, 2006c; DeGregorio

1994: 445; cf. Caie 2000: 20–1). Six of the eight canonical hours are  represented (ed. Ure 1957), though only Prime (ed. and trans. B. Griffiths 1991) is complete. The Old English was almost certainly either composed by the homilist Wulfstan (see Bethurum 1957: 47–9) or extensively revised by him (Ure 1957: 39–43, but cf. Clemoes 1960), except for the versified portions, which are The Lord’s Prayer II (DOE: LPr II) and III (DOE: LPr III) (in the Cambridge and Oxford manuscripts, respectively),

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