Early Germanic Literature and Culture

Early Germanic Literature and Culture

Edited by Brian Murdoch, Malcolm Read


Camden House



A collection of fresh essays examining the wide scope and significance of early Germanic culture and literature.
The first volume of this set views the development of writing in German with respect to broad aspects of the early Germanic past, drawing on a range of disciplines including archaeology, anthropology, and philology in addition to literary history. The first part considers the whole concept of Germanic antiquity and the way in which it has been approached, examines classical writings about Germanic origins and the earliest Germanic tribes, and looks at the two great influences on the early Germanic world: the confrontation with the Roman Empire and the displacement of Germanic religion by Christianity. A chapter on orality -- the earliest stage of all literature -- provides a bridge to the earliest Germanic writings. The second part of the book is devoted to written Germanic -- rather than German -- materials, with a series of chapters looking first at the Runic inscriptions, then at Gothic, the first Germanic language to find its way onto parchment (in Ulfilas's Bible translation). The topic turns finally to what we now understand as literature, with general surveys of the three great areas of early Germanic literature: Old Norse, Old English, and Old High and Low German. A final chapter is devoted to the Old Saxon Heliand.
Contributors: T. M. Andersson, Heinrich Beck, Graeme Dunphy, Klaus Düwel, G. Ronald Murphy, Adrian Murdoch, Brian Murdoch, Rudolf Simek, Herwig Wolfram.
Brian Murdoch and Malcolm Read both teach in the German Department of the University of Stirling in Scotland.

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September 2004
6 black and white, 4 line illustrations
344 pages
9x6 in
Camden House History of German Literature
ISBN: 9781571131997
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT011000
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Table of Contents

Introduction (this chapter has two authors) - Malcolm Read and
The Concept of Germanic Antiquity - Heinrich Beck
The Literature of German Origins - Herwig Wolfram
Germania Romana - Adrian Murdoch
Germanic Religion and the Conversion to Christianity - Rudolph Simek
Orality - R. Graeme Dunphy
Runic - Klaus Duewel
Gothic -
Old Norse-Icelandic Literature - Theodore Andersson
Old English - Fred C. Robinson
Old High and Continental Old Low German -
The Old Saxon Heliand - G. Ronald Murphy


This fine volume comprises 12 mature essays written from diverse scholarly perspectives. The essays have in common good explanations, solid scholarship, and competent translations of early texts - qualities that make them fascinating even for those new to this literature. The chapter on runes is a stellar example. This excellent collection will provide solid information and departure points for further study. Highly Recommended. CHOICE, March 2005

The editors have made a judicious selection of topics for this earliest period....The contributions are original to this volume and provide a very high level of information and scholarship. GERMAN QUARTERLY

An excellent introduction to the world before circa 800, .... an exciting reading experience, even for nonexperts in this field. ...The editors and authors deserve praise for an insightful, concise, and highly readable collection, which might well serve as an introductory textbook for German philologists. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

[A] pathbreaking, useful and varied book. COLLOQUIA GERMANICA

The first two volumes in the Camden House History of German Literature together provide the reader with an admirably innovative guide to tackling the earliest literature in German and in related Germanic languages. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

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