Cover: Beowulf: The Poem and Its Tradition, from Harvard University PressCover: Beowulf in E-DITION

Beowulf

The Poem and Its Tradition

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details

E-DITION

$65.00 • €48.00

ISBN 9780674182998

Publication Date: 01/01/1983

310 pages

illsutrations

World

Related Subjects

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John Niles develops a new view of the first great work of English literature and the native poetic tradition from which it arose. His lucid commentary analyzes all aspects of the poem’s style, meaning, and historical context.

Niles interprets Beowulf as a song performed before an audience, not as a text to be read by clerics. Showing its art to be formal, tradition-bound, and highly stylized, he maintains that much of its character derives from the oral heroic verse-making heritage of Anglo-Saxon poets. Distinguishing Beowulf from Old English poems of clearly monastic origin, Niles finds in it little evidence of Christian symbolism of Latin learning. Instead, it affirms, without irony, the value of heroic action in a world in which even heroes must die. Postulating a tenth-century date for Beowulf, he offers an integrated view of this masterpiece as expressing a sophisticated poetic tradition of the post-Viking age.

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