Beowulf & Other Stories was first conceived in the belief that the study of Old English – and its close cousins, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman – can be a genuine delight, covering a period as replete with wonder, creativity and magic as any other in literature. Now in a fully revised second edition, the collection of essays written by leading academics in the field is set to build upon its established reputation as the standard introduction to the literatures of the time.
Beowulf & Other Stories captures the fire and bloodlust of the great epic, Beowulf, and the sophistication and eroticism of the Exeter Riddles. Fresh interpretations give new life to the spiritual ecstasy of The Seafarer and to the imaginative dexterity of The Dream of the Rood, andprovide the student and general reader with all they might need to explore and enjoy this complex but rewarding field. The book sheds light, too, on the shadowy contexts of the period, with suggestive and highly readable essays on matters ranging from the dynamism of the Viking Age to Anglo-Saxon input into The Lord of the Rings, from the great religious prose works to the transition from Old to Middle English. It also branches out into related traditions, with expert introductions to the Icelandic Sagas, Viking Religion and Norse Mythology. Peter S. Baker provides an outstanding guide to taking your first steps in the Old English language, while David Crystal provides a crisp linguistic overview of the entire period.
With a new chapter by Mike Bintley on Anglo-Saxon archaeology and a revised chapter by Stewart Brookes on the prose writers of the English Benedictine Reform, this updated second edition will be essential reading for students of the period.
Table of Contents
List of plates and maps. Preface to the second edition. Acknowledgements. Publisher's Acknowledgements. 1. Why read Old English Literature? An introduction to this book. Richard North, David Crystal and Joe Allard. Names to Look Out For. Joe Allard and Richard North. 2. Is it relevant? Old English influence on The Lord of the Rings. Clive Tolley. 3. Is violence what Old English literature is about? Beowulf and other battlers: an introduction to Beowulf. Andy Orchard. 4. Is there more like Beowulf? Old English minor heroic poems. Richard North. 5. What else is there?. Joyous Play and Bitter Tears: the Riddles and the Elegies. Jennifer Neville. 6. How Christian is OE literature? The Dream of the Rood and Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Éamonn O Carragáin and Richard North. 7. How did OE literature start? Cædmon the cowherd and Old English biblical verse. Bryan Weston Wyly. 8. Were all the poets monks? Monasteries and courts: Alcuin and Offa. Andy Orchard. 9. What was it like to be in the Anglo-Saxon or Viking World? Material culture: archaeology and text. Michael Bintley. 10. Did the Anglo-Saxons write fiction? Old English prose: King Alfred and his books. Susan Irvine. 11. How difficult is the Old English language? The Old English language. Peter S. Baker. 12. When were the Vikings in England? Viking wars and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Jayne Carroll. Notes on the Old Norse language. Richard North. 13. What gods did the Vikings worship? Viking religion: Old Norse mythology. Terry Gunnell. 14. Just who were the Vikings anyway? Sagas of Icelanders. Joe Allard. 15. Were there stories in late OE literature? Prose writers of the English Benedictine Reform. Stewart Brookes. 16. What happened when the Normans arrived?. Anglo-Norman literature: the road to Middle English. Patricia Gillies. Epilogue. The end of Old English? David Crystal. The editors and the contributors. Index
Joe Allard teaches at the University of Essex. He translates and publishes contemporary Icelandic poetry and fiction, and has written extensively on medieval Icelnadic prose and poetry.
Richard North teaches Old and Middle English at University College London, and is author of Heathen Gods in Old English Literature (1997) and The Origins of Beaowulf (2006).