The Dating of Beowulf

Front Cover
University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 228 pages

The date of Beowulf, debated for almost a century, is a small question with large consequences. Does the poem provide us with an accurate if idealized view of early Germanic culture? Or is it rather a creature of nostalgia and imagination, born of the desire of a later age to create for itself a glorious past? If we cannot decide when, between the 5th and 11th centuries, the poem was composed, we cannot distinguish what elements in Beowulf belong properly to the history of material culture, to the history of myth and legend, to political history, or to the development of the English literary imagination.

This book represents both individual and concerted attempts to deal with this important question, and presents one of the most important inconclusions in the study of Old English. The contributors raise so many doubts, turn up so much new and disturbing information, dismantle so many long-accepted scholarly constructs that Beowulf studies will never be the same: henceforth every discussion of the poem and its period will begin with reference to this volume.

 

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Contents

ABBREVIATIONS
10
The EleventhCentury Origin of Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript
11
The Nowell Codex and the Poem of Beowulf
23
A Reconsideration of the Language of Beowulf
33
with the assistance of SHARON BUTLER and ANTONETTE DIPAOLO HEALEY
77
Datable Anachronisms in Beowulf
83
Beowulf the Danish Invasions and Royal Genealogy
101
The Audience of Beowulf and the Vikings
113
A Chronological Experiment
141
TURK
161
Style as the Criterion for Dating the Composition of Beowulf
173
On the Date of Composition of Beowulf
187
Some Doubts and No Conclusions
197
The Uses of Uncertainty On the Dating of Beowulf
213
INDEX
221
Copyright

Skaldic Verse and the Date of Beowulf
123

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About the author (1997)

COLIN CHASE (1935-1984), the editor of this volume, was a member of the department of English and of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. NICHOLAS HOWE is the Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus.

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