Heathen Gods in Old English Literature

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 11, 1997 - History - 374 pages
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Heathen gods are hard to find in Old English literature. Most Anglo-Saxon writers had no interest in them, and scholars today prefer to concentrate on the Christian civilization for which the Anglo-Saxons were so famous. Richard North offers an interesting view of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian paganism and mythology in the pre-Viking and Viking age. He discusses the pre-Christian gods of Bede's history of the Anglo-Saxon conversion with reference to an orgiastic figure known as Ingui, whom Bede called 'god of this age'. Using expert knowledge of comparative literary material from Old Norse-Icelandic and other Old Germanic languages, North reconstructs the slender Old English evidence in a highly imaginative treatment of poems such as Deor and The Dream of the Rood. Other gods such as Woden are considered with reference to Odin and his family in Old Norse-Icelandic mythology. In conclusion, it is argued that the cult of Ingui was defeated only when the ideology of the god Woden was sponsored by the Anglo-Saxon church. The book will interest students interested in Old English, Old Norse-Icelandic and Germanic literatures, Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology.

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About the author (1997)

Richard North was made to read old English at oxford and now teaches it for a living in UCL. He would like to be known for writing fiction. Publications include "Heathen Gods" "in old English Literature" (1997), "The Origins of 'Beowulf' "(2006), and some poems and short stories in "Undertow," the UCL English students' literary magazine. Hobbies include piano, reading the sagas and collecting students.

Joe Allard discovered Iceland almost by chance in the mid-eighties and has never looked back. He translates and publishes (mares' Nest Publishers, festival Books) contemporary Icelandic poetry and fiction. He also writes about and teaches medieval Icelandic prose and poetry. He eats shark, puffin and whale and enjoys 57% Icelandic spirits. Hobbies include piano and watching volcanoes.

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