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The Anglo Saxon Literature Handbook

Mark C. Amodio

ISBN: 978-0-631-22698-7 June 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 432 Pages


The Anglo-Saxon Literature Handbook  presents an accessible introduction to the surviving works of prose and poetry produced in Anglo-Saxon England, from AD 410-1066.

  • Makes Anglo-Saxon literature accessible to modern readers
  • Helps readers to overcome the linguistic, aesthetic and cultural barriers to understanding and appreciating Anglo-Saxon verse and prose
  • Introduces readers to the language, politics, and religion of the Anglo-Saxon literary world
  • Presents original readings of such works as Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Note on the Text xvii

List of Abbreviations xix

Part 1 Anglo-Saxon England: Backgrounds and Beginnings 1

Political History 3

Ecclesiastical History 11

Intellectual History 15

Linguistic History 20

Literary History 24

Traditions: Oral and Literate 27

A Note on Dating Anglo-Saxon Texts 30

Part 2 Anglo-Saxon Prose 33

The Writings of King Alfred the Great 35

Alfred’s Translation of Pope Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care 36

Alfred’s Translation of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy 42

Alfred’s Translation of St Augustine’s Soliloquies 47

Alfred’s Translations of the Prose Psalms of the Paris Psalter 51

Alfred’s Preface to Wærferth’s Translation of Pope

Gregory’s Dialogues 54

The Vercelli Homilies 56

The Blickling Homilies 62

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 67

The Old English Orosius 72

Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People 78

Apollonius of Tyre 87

The Old English Martyrology 92

The Life of St Guthlac 96

The Wonders of the East, The Letter of Alexander to Aristotle, and The Life of St Christopher 99

Bald’s Leechbook and Leechbook III 105

The Writings of Wulfstan, Archbishop of York 109

The Writings of Ælfric of Eynsham 116

Catholic Homilies 122

Lives of Saints 126

Colloquy on the Occupations 127

Ælfric as Author 130

Part 3 Anglo-Saxon Poetry 135

The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Tradition 137

Cædmon’s Hymn 147

Bede’s Death Song 152

The Junius Manuscript 154

Genesis 155

Genesis A 156

Genesis B 157

Exodus 162

Daniel 167

Christ and Satan 170

The Poems of the Vercelli Book 176

Andreas 177

Fates of the Apostles 185

Soul and Body I (and II) 188

Homiletic Fragment I 192

The Dream of the Rood 192

Elene 197

The Exeter Book 202

The Advent Lyrics (Christ I) 203

The Ascension (Christ II) 206

Christ in Judgement (Christ III) 209

Life of St Guthlac 212

Guthlac A 213

Guthlac B 215

Azarias 219

The Phoenix 221

Juliana 225

The Wanderer 229

The Gifts of Men 233

Precepts 234

The Seafarer 235

Vainglory 237

Widsið 240

The Fortunes of Men 242

Maxims (I) 244

The Order of the World 246

The Rhyming Poem 247

The Panther, The Whale, The Partridge (The Old English Physiologus) 249

Soul and Body II (and I) 252

Deor 253

Wulf and Eadwacer 255

The Exeter Book Riddles 257

The Wife’s Lament 260

Judgement Day I 262

Resignation (A and B) 265

The Descent into Hell 267

Almsgiving 268

Pharaoh 269

The Lord’s Prayer I 270

Homiletic Fragment II 270

The Husband’s Message 271

The Ruin 273

The Poems of Cotton Vitellius A.xv 276

Beowulf 277

Judith 294

Poems from Various Manuscripts 300

The Metres of Boethius 300

The Metrical Psalms of the Paris Psalter 305

Solomon and Saturn I and II 307

The Menologium 311

The Rune Poem 313

The Poems of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 315

The Battle of Brunanburh 317

The Battle of Maldon 319

The Fight at Finnsburh 323

Waldere 326

Durham 329

Part 4 Critical Approaches 333

The Alterity of Anglo-Saxon Literature 335

Source Studies 339

Manuscript Studies 342

Grammatical and Syntactic Studies 343

Theoretical Perspectives 345

Part 5 Themes 361

Anglo-Saxon Thematics 363

Heroism 365

The End of the World 368

The Transitory Nature of Life 370

Fate 372

Wisdom 374

Otherness 376

Oral-Traditional Themes 378

Bibliography 381

Index 401

Index of Manuscripts 411

"(An) accessible, invaluable book. Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Lower-and upper-division undergraduates."  (Choice, 1 January 2014)

  • Makes Anglo-Saxon literature accessible to today’s readers
  • Helps readers to overcome the linguistic, aesthetic and cultural barriers to understanding and appreciating Anglo-Saxon verse and prose
  • Familiarises readers with the world in which Anglo-Saxon texts were produced, including its language, politics, and religion
  • Offers original readings of particular works, including Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, The Seafarer and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
  • Written by an acknowledged authority on oral poetics