MS Junius 11 and its Poetry
Title Details

238 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

11 b/w illus.

Series: York Manuscript and Early Print Studies

Series Vol. Number: 6

Imprint: York Medieval Press

MS Junius 11 and its Poetry

by Carl Kears

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
A fresh close reading of the texts of one of the four surviving major manuscripts of Old English poetry, reappraising Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11 to discover some of the preoccupations of its compliers.

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Junius 11 is one of the four major manuscripts of Old English poetry to survive and the only one of these to have had a planned sequence of illuminations. Junius 11 is made up of different poems - Genesis A, Genesis B, Exodus, Daniel and Christ and Satan - compiled to resemble a long narrative that represents salvation history from its violent origins to its Last Days. While the poems draw inspiration from biblical, apocryphal and commentary traditions, they combine in the manuscript to create powerful effects that can also be understood through an appreciation of the distinctive craft and complexity of early medieval vernacular verse. But can the language of the poetry within the manuscript tell us anything about the aims of the Junius 11 project, or the preoccupations of its compilers?

This book approaches Junius 11 as an ambitious poetic endeavour that was designed to offer counsel through the medium of Old English verbal art. Tracing thematic language across and between the poems, and offering close readings of them in their manuscript context, MS Junius 11 and its Poetry argues that it is early medieval political ideas represented by the Old English words ræd (good counsel) and unræd (ill counsel) that emerge as the key components underlying the central conflicts of the history of humankind the makers of this manuscript sought to create. The poems themselves, by giving us many examples of rulers and leaders falling to ruin, have the potential to offer their own ræd to those who may have found themselves in relatable positions. But Junius 11 demands work for such gifts. Its poems generate impressions cumulatively and collectively, offering instruction to those who might build connections across pages, demanding audiences become attentive and active readers so that they might find solace and advice in a world that moves towards destruction.
List of Illustrations

Acknowledgements

List of Abbreviations

Introduction

Chapter One: Foundation and Refoundation in Genesis A

Chapter Two: Satan's Vengeance and Genesis B

Chapter Three: Reading, Misreading and the Red Sea: the Journey to Ræd
in Exodus

Chapter Four: Rise and Fall Again in the Old English Daniel

Chapter Five: Christ and Satan: the End of the Cycle

Afterword

Bibliography

Carl Kears is Lecturer in Medieval Literature at King's College London.

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Title Details

238 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

11 b/w illus.

Series: York Manuscript and Early Print Studies

Series Vol. Number: 6

Imprint: York Medieval Press