By Jonathan Wilcox
Humour is never noticeable to elevate its indecorous head within the surviving corpus of outdated English literature, but the worth of examining that literature with a watch to humour proves enormous while the proper questions are requested. Humour in Anglo-Saxon Literature presents the 1st book-length therapy of the topic. In all new essays, 8 students hire diverse techniques to discover humor in such works as Beowulf and The conflict of Maldon, the riddles of the Exeter publication, and previous English saints' lives. An introductory essay offers a survey of the sphere, whereas person essays push in the direction of a particular concept of Anglo-Saxon humour. via its strange concentration, this assortment will supply an beautiful creation to either recognized and lesser-known works for these new to previous English literature, whereas these conversant in the standard contours of previous English literary feedback will locate right here the price of a clean process. participants: JOHN D. NILES, T.A. SHIPPEY, RAYMOND P. TRIPP JR, E.L. RISDEN, D.K. SMITH, NINA RULON-MILLER, SHARI HORNER, HUGH MAGENNIS.JONATHAN WILCOX is affiliate Professor of English on the collage of Iowa and editor of the previous English e-newsletter. even if the query of humour within the surviving corpus of previous English literature has not often been mentioned, the possibility of studying this literature when it comes to its humor is actually substantial. within the essays particularly commissioned for this quantity, the 1st book-length therapy of Anglo-Saxon humor, 8 of the major students within the box use assorted methods to discover humor within the surviving literature of Anglo-Saxon England, in such works as Beowulf and The conflict of Maldon, the riddles of the Exeter e-book, and outdated English saints' lives. The articles are prefaced with an advent surveying the sector. via its strange concentration, this assortment will offer an beautiful advent to either well-known and lesser-known works for these new to outdated English literature, whereas these conversant in the standard contours of outdated English literary feedback will locate right here the price of a clean process.
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Additional info for Humour in Anglo-Saxon Literature
How can we redress this situation? Is it possible to learn to read the language of things and gestures in early English poetry with the confidence of native speakers? Perhaps not, and yet the attempt can be instructive. To conclude this essay let me turn once again to a consideration of Byrhtnoth’s laughter, taking a sharper glance now at critics’ understanding of this scene. Reading Maldon 146b–48 Modern commentators on the scene that I have chosen to foreground seem to fall into two camps. 33 Certainly Byrhtnoth has just experienced such a shift.
If the warriors who die at the front are acting out their parts in ignorance and, like Byrhtnoth, are complicit in their own destruction, then must we not also view their heroics, like those of Byrhtnoth, from a detached and even ironic perspective? This thought is a disturbing one. Almost all modern criticism of Maldon has taken a reverential view of the sacrifices made by the warriors who urge one another on, uttering mutual pledges to fight to the death. Irony, if admitted here, would force a radically anti-heroic reading of this part of the poem and would make a mockery of a long tradition of Maldon scholarship.
195. Archer Taylor, The Proverb and An Index to ‘The Proverb’, with an introduction by Wolfgang Mieder (Bern, 1985), pp. 26, 178–79; cf. ‘An Index’, p. 25; for fuller discussion see Taylor, ‘ “In the Evening Praise the Day” ’, Modern Language Notes 36 (1921), 115–18. 27 JOHN D. NILES (‘Don’t say, ‘‘It’s been a good day” till sundown. 41 Byrhtnoth is foolish to exult. His day’s work is not yet done. In the next moment another Viking spear strikes him right through the body. This wound is no joke.
Humour in Anglo-Saxon Literature by Jonathan Wilcox