Undoing Babel: The Tower of Babel in Anglo-Saxon Literature

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University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 2018 - History - 289 pages

The Tower of Babel narrative is one of the most memorable accounts of the Bible, and its interpretative potential has produced a vast array of literary adaptations.

Undoing Babel is the first extensive examination of the development of the Babel narrative amongst Anglo-Saxon authors from late antiquity to the eleventh century. Tristan Major's illuminating and original insight into Anglo-Latin and Old English works, including the writings of Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin, Ălfric, and Wulfstan, reveals the cultural ideologies and anxieties that transformed the Babel narrative. In doing so, Major argues that these Babel narratives provide a basis for understanding the world's ethnic and linguistic diversity as well as a theological stimulus to evangelize non-Christian and non-European people. Undoing Babel highlights the depth of literary innovation in this period and disproves any notion of a single Anglo-Saxon reception of biblical sources.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
1 Early Jewish and Christian Antiquity
27
2 Latin Christian Antiquity
50
3 The Early AngloSaxon School at Canterbury
78
4 Bede and Alcuin
96
5 Alfred the Great and the Literature of His Reign
133
6 The Tenth and Early Eleventh Centuries
158
7 The Biblical Poems of Junius 11
209
Conclusion
237
Bibliography
245
Index
285
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

Tristan Major is an assistant professor in the Department of English Literature and Linguistics at Qatar University.

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