The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment
Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2014 - Literary Criticism - 250 pages
"This book will be a milestone, and deserves to be widely read. The early Beowulf that overwhelmingly emerges here asks hard questions, and the same strictly defined measures of metre, spelling, onomastics, semantics, genealogy, and historicity all cry out to be tested further and applied more broadly to the whole corpus of Old English verse." Andy Orchard, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford.
The dating of Beowulf has been a central question in Anglo-Saxon studies for the past two centuries, since it affects not only the interpretation of Beowulf, but also the trajectory of early English literary history. By exploring evidence for the poem's date of composition, the essays in this volume contribute to a wide range of pertinent fields, including historical linguistics, Old English metrics, onomastics, and textual criticism. Many aspects of Anglo-Saxon literary culture are likewise examined, as contributors gauge the chronological significance of the monsters, heroes, history, and theology brought together in Beowulf. Discussions of methodology and the history of the discipline also figure prominently in this collection.
Overall, the dating of Beowulf here provides a productive framework for evaluating evidence and drawing informed conclusions about its chronological significance. These conclusions enhance our appreciation of Beowulf and improve our understanding of the poem's place in literary history.
Leonard Neidorf is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.
Contributors: Frederick M. Biggs, Thomas A. Bredehoft, George Clark, Dennis Cronan, Michael D.C. Drout, Allen J. Frantzen, R.D. Fulk, Megan E. Hartman, Joseph Harris, Thomas D. Hill, Leonard Neidorf, Rafael J. Pascual, Tom Shippey
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1 Beowulf and Language History
2 Germanic Legend Scribal Errors and Cultural Change
3 Names in Beowulf and AngloSaxon England
4 The Limits of Conservative Composition in Old English Poetry
5 The Date of Composition of Beowulf and the Evidence of Metrical Evolution
6 Beowulf and the Containment of Scyld in the West Saxon Royal Genealogy
7 History and Fiction in the Frisian Raid
Historiography and Rhetorical History of the Dating of Beowulf Controversy
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Ęthelweard Ęthelwulf’s Alfredian alliteration Anglian Anglo-Saxon England appear archaic argued argument audience Bede Bede’s Beowulf Manuscript Beowulf poet Bjork Bredehoft Brunanburh Christian Chronicle Clemoes Colin Chase compounds conservative context Critics cultural Cynewulf’s Danes Dating of Beowulf Dumville early eighth century English Studies Exeter Book fictional forms Frisian Frisian raid Geats Genesis Germanic Grendel Heardred Heorot heroic legend heroic-legendary Heruteu History of Old Hrošgar Hrothgar Hygelac hypermetric Ingeld J.R.R. Tolkien Judith K1 verses Kaluza’s law king Klaeber’s Beowulf language Lejre Leonard Neidorf Liber Monstrorum lines literal confusions literary Maldon Medieval Mercian metrical Michael Lapidge monsters names Niles Old English Literature Old English Meter Old English poems Old English Poetry Old English verse Oxford pagan Philology poem’s poet’s poetic probably R.D. Fulk Russom Scandinavian Sceaf Sceldwa scholars scribe scucca Scyld Shippey Sisam Studies tenth century texts Tolkien Toronto Press tradition University of Toronto Weohstan West Saxon Widsiš Widsith word