Beowulf is one of the finest works of vernacular literature from the European Middle Ages and as such is a fitting title to head the Old English family of texts published in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library.
But this volume offers something unique. For the first time in the history of Beowulf scholarship, the poem appears alongside the other four texts from its sole surviving manuscript: the prose Passion of Saint Christopher, The Wonders of the East, The Letter of Alexander the Great to Aristotle, and (following Beowulf) the poem Judith. First-time readers as well as established scholars can now gain new insights into Beowulf—and the four other texts—by approaching each in its original context.
Could a fascination with the monstrous have motivated the compiler of this manuscript, working over a thousand years ago, to pull together this diverse grouping into a single volume? The prose translation by R. D. Fulk, based on the most recent editorial understanding, allows readers to rediscover Beowulf’s brilliant mastery along with otherworldly delights in the four companion texts in The Beowulf Manuscript.
Understandably, interest in the manuscript has centered on Beowulf, and it is still called the Beowulf manuscript here, though—unprecedentedly—this new book contains both text and translations of all the Nowell manuscript’s items: the three prose works that precede Beowulf—The Passion of St. Christopher, The Wonders of the East, and The Letters of Alexander the Great to Aristotle—as well as Judith. It is an inspired project. R. D. Fulk is one of the world’s leading Beowulfians… Fulk has produced an elegant, slightly archaized prose version of the poem (‘He lived to see remedy for that’) that keeps to the same register for all the items in the manuscript. His textual notes are predictably authoritative, and he conveys a remarkable amount of information within a small compass in his notes to the translations. …This delightful book is a particularly graceful member of the beautifully produced Dumbarton Oaks series.
- 400 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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