Includes the Junius manuscript, Exeter book, Vercelli book, Beowulf and Judith, metrical psalms of Paris Psalter and the meters of Boethius, poems of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, riddles, charms, and a number of minor additional poems.
What makes one Anglo-Saxon poem better than another? Why does Beowulf still have the power to move us after so many centuries? What might have been aesthetically pleasing to Old English readers and writers of poetry? While there is an apparent consensus by scholars on a core of poems considered to be exceptional literary achievements - Beowulf, Judith, the Vercelli book - there has been little systematic investigation of the basis for these appraisals. With new essays on rhetoric, wordplay, meter, structure, irony, form, psychology, ethos, and reader response, the contributors to this collection aim to find objective aesthetic qualities in Anglo-Saxon poetry. Posing questions of quality and beauty as discoverable in artefacts, On the Aesthetics of Beowulf and Other Old English Poems significantly advances our understanding not only of aesthetics and Old English poetry, but also of Old English attitudes towards literature as an art form.
Release on 1994 | by Henk Aertsen,Rolf Hendrik Bremmer
Author: Henk Aertsen,Rolf Hendrik Bremmer
Pubpsher: Vu University Press Amsterdam
Category: Literary Criticism
This companion contains original essays by scholars in Britain, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. In addition to general surveys on the nature of old English poetry and its material context, there are detailed discussions and interpretations of individuals poems: ''Beowulf'' in its Germanic and Christian backgrounds, ''The Wanderer'' and ''The Seafarer'' as wisdom poetry, ''The Dream of the Rood'' and the related religious poetry, the shorter heroic poems, the personal lyric, Biblical narrative poetry, saints' lives and riddles and maxims. The purpose in each case is to stimulate a critical engagement by providing a literary approach and some historical context.
The modern reader knows Old English poetry as a discrete number of poems, set up and printed in units punctuated as modern sentences, and with titles inserted by modern editors. Carol Braun Pasternack constructs a reading of the poetry that takes into account the format of the verse as it exists in the manuscripts. In a detailed analysis, which takes up issues current in poststructuralist theory, she argues that the idea of "verse sequences" should replace the "poem" and "implied tradition" should replace the idea of "the author".
Ideas about the human mind are culturally specific and over time vary in form and prominence. The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry presents the first extensive exploration of Anglo-Saxon beliefs about the mind and how these views informed Old English poetry. It identifies in this poetry a particular cultural focus on the mental world and formulates a multivalent model of the mind behind it, as the seat of emotions, the site of temptation, the container of knowledge, and a heroic weapon. The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry treats a wide range of Old English literary genres (in the context of their Latin sources and analogues where applicable) in order to discover how ideas about the mind shape the narrative, didactic, and linguistic design of poetic discourse. Particular attention is paid to the rich and slippery vernacular vocabulary for the mind which suggests a special interest in the subject in Old English poetry. The book argues that Anglo-Saxon poets were acutely conscious of mental functions and perceived the psychological basis not only of the cognitive world, but also of the emotions and of the spiritual life.