A History of Old English Literature
9781551113227.jpg
  • Publication Date: January 14, 2002
  • ISBN: 9781551113227 / 1551113228
  • 299 pages; 6" x 9"
Exam Copy

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A History of Old English Literature

  • Publication Date: January 14, 2002
  • ISBN: 9781551113227 / 1551113228
  • 299 pages; 6" x 9"

Alexander’s A History of Old English Literature is an outstanding introduction to a difficult period of literary history. It provides a simple historical and cultural context for the study of the Anglo-Saxons, and offers a history, illustrated by many passages in translation, of the whole of the literature that survives. While it contains solid, insightful and sensible criticism of individual literary works, its overall historical organization suggests that Old English literature was created in a cultural context that changed from one century to another. Although its intentions are scholarly, this history of Old English literature is also an introduction, assuming little knowledge of this period or its surviving products, and none of its language. This edition has been revised and rewritten throughout, and offers a new preface as well as an updated bibliography.

Comments

“Old English literature has long been the preserve of scholars and specialists. Michael Alexander’s A History of Old English Literature now fills a major gap by introducing both prose and poetry, literature and history, in an accessible style which communicates his own lifelong love of the subject. Especially attractive are the translations, at once accurate and colloquial, which disperse the antiquarian miasma hanging round the subject while keeping the vital touch of strangeness. Alexander’s book is now the best and most complete one-volume guide to the whole of Old English, oldest and best-recorded of the vernaculars of Dark Age Europe.” — Tom Shippey, St. Louis University

“A lucid, eminently readable survey, altogether a cosy hearth-companion.” — Margaret Connolly, University College Cork

Acknowledgements
Preface
Chronological Table

1. PERSPECTIVES

  • What has Survived
    Songs and Scribes
    The End of Heathenism
    The Languages of Britain
    Contexts

2. ENGLAND 449-1066: A SKETCH

  • Old English
    Conquest
    Conversion
    Sutton Hoo and warrior society
    Conversion and accommodation
    Bede’s Northumbria
    Theodore and a learned Church
    Wessex
    The Benedictine Revival

3. HEROIC POETRY INCLUDING BEOWULF

  • The heroic ethos
    Germanic heroic poetry
    Versification
    Poetic diction
    Formulaic composition
    The uses of poetry
    Beowulf

4. THE WORLD’S WONDER: RIDDLES

  • Riddles
    Verse Wisdom

5. BEDE AND CÆDMON

  • The Ecclesiastical History
    Cædmon

6. THE POETIC ELEGIES

  • Wanderer and Seafarer
    Other Elegies

7. ALFRED AND OLD ENGLISH PROSE

  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
    Books most needful

8. VERSE OF THE CHRISTIAN ESTABLISHMENT

  • Saints’ lives: Andreas
    Elene
    Christ
    The Dream of the Rood

9. THE BENEDICTINE REVIVAL

  • Aelfric’s Colloquy
    Aelfric’s Homilies
    Wulfstan
    Verse of the tenth century
    The Battle of Maldon

10. AFTERWARDS

  • Old and Middle
    Late Prose

Appendix: A Note on Deor
Notes on the Plates
Bibliography and Further Reading

Michael Alexander is Berry Professor of English Literature, University of St. Andrews; his many works include The Earliest English Poems and Beowulf: A Verse Translation.