What is the ethical power of literature? Can it diminish acts of injuring, and if it can, what aspects of literature deserve the credit? All these questions, at first, hinge on another:
Reviews and discussions on Books we are reading in the groups Tuesday, 21 April Beowulf What could be a more promising poetic project than the greatest of early English poems, Beowulf, newly translated by arguably the greatest of living poets writing in English, Seamus Heaney?
The literary pedigree of this great fabular epic in the hands of Nobel Laureate Heaney matches Ted Hughes' award-winning rewrite of Ovid's Metamorphosis, Tales from Ovid. Heaney has chosen the plain, prosaic yet subtly cadenced vernacular of his Northern Irish roots as the poetic voice into which he renders this famous Anglo-Saxon fabular epic of a dragon-slaying Danish warrior.
The result is an engaging evocation of the highly alliterative, densely metaphorical texture of Anglo-Saxon verse, which is famously hard to capture in modern English poetic forms. The very plain-spokenness of Heaney's translation makes it admirably easy to read and understand, whilst rendering an often true translation at a galloping narrative pace.
Heaney's Beowulf opens up one of the most famous founding epics of European literature to a modern world of new readers Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem of unknown authorship, dating as recorded in the Nowell Codex manuscript from between the 8th to the early 11th century, and relates events described as having occurred in what is now Denmark and Sweden.
Commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf has been the subject of much scholarly study, theory, speculation, discourse, and, at lines, has been noted for its length. In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who has been attacking the mead hall in Denmark called Heorot and its inhabitants; Grendel's mother; and, later in life after returning to Geatland modern southern Sweden and becoming a king, he fights an unnamed dragon.
Beowulf is fatally wounded in the final battle, and after his death he is buried in a barrow in Geatland by his retainers. Provenance The earliest known owner is the 16th century What singles out beowulf among all other works of anglo saxon poetry Laurence Nowell, after whom the manuscript is named, though its official designation is Cotton Vitellius A.
XV because it was one of Robert Bruce Cotton's holdings in the middle of the 17th century. It suffered damage in the Cotton Library fire at Ashburnham House in Since then, parts of the manuscript have crumbled along with many of the letters.
Rebinding efforts, though saving the manuscript from much degeneration, have nonetheless covered up other letters of the poem, causing further loss. Kevin Kiernan, Professor of English at the University of Kentucky is foremost in the computer digitization and preservation of the manuscript the Electronic Beowulf Projectusing fiber optic backlighting to further reveal lost letters of the poem.
The poem is known only from a single manuscript, which is estimated to date from close to AD Kiernan has argued from an examination of the manuscript that it was the author's own working copy.
He dated the work to the reign of Canute the Great. The earliest extant reference to the first foliation of the Nowell Codex was made sometime between and by Franciscus Junius the younger. The owner of the codex before Nowell remains a mystery.
In the letter to Wanley, Hickes responds to an apparent charge against Smith, made by Wanley, that Smith had failed to mention the Beowulf script when cataloguing Cotton MS.
Hickes replies to Wanley "I can find nothing yet of Beowulph. The two scribesThe Beowulf manuscript was transcribed from an original by two scribes: Scribe A and Scribe B, the latter of whom took over at line The handwriting of the two scribes is ill-matched.
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The script of Scribe B is archaic. Both scribes proofread their work, and Scribe B even proofread the work of Scribe A. The work of Scribe B bears a striking resemblance to the work of the first scribe of the Blickling homilies, and so much so that it is believed they derive from the same scriptorium.
He made one himself, and had another done by a professional copyist who knew no Anglo-Saxon. Since that time, the manuscript has crumbled further, and the Thorkelin transcripts remain a prized secondary source for Beowulf scholars. The recovery of at least letters can be attributed to these transcripts.
Their accuracy has been called into question, however e. Authorship and date Beowulf was written in England, but is set in Scandinavia. It has variously been dated to between the 8th and the early 11th centuries. It is an epic poem told in historical perspective; a story of epic events and of great people of a heroic past.
Although its author is unknown, its themes and subject matter are generally believed to have been formed through oral tradition, the passing down of stories by scops Old English poets and it is considered partly historical.
Opinion differs as to whether the composition of the poem is contemporary with its transcription, or whether the poem was composed at an earlier time and orally transmitted for many years, and then transcribed at a later date. Lord felt strongly the manuscript represents the transcription of a performance, though likely taken at more than one sitting.
Kiernan argues on the basis of paleographical and codicological evidence, that the poem is contemporary with the manuscript.
Kiernan argues against an 8th century provenance because this would still require that the poem be transmitted by Anglo-Saxons through the Viking Age, holds that the paleographic and codicological evidence encourages the belief that Beowulf is an 11th century composite poem, and states that Scribe A and Scribe B are the authors and that Scribe B is the more poignant of the two.
The 11th century date is due to scholars who argue that, rather than transcription of the tale from the oral tradition by a literate monk, Beowulf reflects an original interpretation of the story by th e poet. Debate over oral tradition The question of whether Beowulf was passed down through the oral tradition prior to its present manuscript form has been the subject of much debate, and involves more than the mere matter of how it was composed.
Rather, given the implications of the theory of Oral-Formulaic Composition and Oral tradition, the question concerns how the poem is to be understood, and what sorts of interpretations are legitimate.
Scholarly discussion about Beowulf in the context of the oral tradition was extremely active throughout the s and s.If poetry can be regarded as a species of play, as the Anglo-Saxon terms for it imply, as Huizinga has claimed, and as Wolfgang Iser has recently reaffirmed on the basis of readerresponse theory (), then the hall, for the Anglo-Saxons, is its regardbouddhiste.com its benches, hearth, tapestries,and other adornments,the hall is the honored.
Anglo-saxon poetry was circulated orally in a preliterate society, and gathered at last into books over some six centuries before the Norman Conquest ended English independence/5(5). The word Anglo-Saxon is used as a collective name for those Teutonic settlers -- the foundation stock of the English race -- who after dispossessing the Celtic inhabitants of Britain in the middle of the fifth century, remained masters of the country until a new order of things was created in Beowulf: A History of Violence in Anglo-Saxon Culture In the Anglo-Saxon epic, “Beowulf”, the theme of violence is prevalent throughout the entire story.
The hero, Beowulf, is referred to as the strongest, most powerful man in the world, and uses his strength to vanquish evil. Abstract: The hall in Anglo-Saxon culture and literature is generally understood to be the locus of social and poetic regardbouddhiste.com paper argues that, on the contrary, the hall, particularly as it (dis)appears in Beowulf, serves to introduce and reinforce themes of limitation and indeterminacy in the human activity of making meaning, as practiced both by the Anglo-Saxon builders and.
This paper argues that, on the contrary, the hall, particularly as it (dis)appears in Beowulf, serves to introduce and reinforce themes of limitation and indeterminacy in the human activity of making meaning, as practiced both by the Anglo-Saxon builders and poets and by contemporary scholars.