The Dating of Beowulf

August 2014
7 line illustrations
262 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
Library eBook

The Dating of Beowulf

A Reassessment

Edited by Leonard Neidorf

Examinations of the date of Beowulf have tremendous significance for Anglo-Saxon culture in general.
"This book will be a milestone, and deserves to be widely read. The early Beowulf that overwhelmingly emerges here asks hard questions, and the same strictly defined measures of metre, spelling, onomastics, semantics, genealogy, and historicity all cry out to be tested further and applied more broadly to the whole corpus of Old English verse." Andy Orchard, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford.

The dating of Beowulf has been a central question in Anglo-Saxon studies for the past two centuries, since it affects not only the interpretation of Beowulf, but also the trajectory of early English literary history. By exploring evidence for the poem's date of composition, the essays in this volume contribute to a wide range of pertinent fields, including historical linguistics, Old English metrics, onomastics, and textual criticism. Many aspects of Anglo-Saxon literary culture are likewise examined, as contributors gauge the chronological significance of the monsters, heroes, history, and theology brought together in Beowulf. Discussions of methodology and the history of the discipline also figure prominently in this collection.
Overall, the dating of Beowulf here provides a productive framework for evaluating evidence and drawing informed conclusions about its chronological significance. These conclusions enhance our appreciation of Beowulf and improve our understanding of the poem's place in literary history.

Leonard Neidorf is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Contributors: Frederick M. Biggs, Thomas A. Bredehoft, George Clark, Dennis Cronan, Michael D.C. Drout, Allen J. Frantzen, R.D. Fulk, Megan E. Hartman, Joseph Harris, Thomas D. Hill, Leonard Neidorf, Rafael J. Pascual, Tom Shippey

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Table of Contents

Beowulf and Language History - R D Fulk
Germanic Legend, Scribal Errors, and Cultural Change - Leonard Neidorf
Names in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon England - Tom Shippey
The Limits of Conservative Composition in Old English Poetry - Megan E. Hartman
The Date of Composition of Beowulf and the Evidence of Metrical Evolution - Thomas A. Bredehoft
Beowulf and the Containment of Scyld in the West Saxon Royal Genealogy - Dennis Cronan
History and Fiction in the Frisian Raid - Frederick M. Biggs
'Give the People What They Want': Historiography and Rhetorical History of the Dating of Beowulf Controversy - Michael D. C Drout and Emily Bowman and Phoebe Boyd
A Note on the Other Heorot - Joseph Harris
Beowulf and Conversion History - Thomas D Hill
Material Monsters and Semantic Shifts - Rafael J. Pascual
Scandals in Toronto: Kaluza's Law and Transliteration Errors - George Clark
Afterword: Beowulf and Everything Else - Allen J. Frantzen


2015 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

Serious and impressive. MEDIAEVISTIK

This is a magnum opus, which liberates the text for all the "others" - the cultural historians, the archaeologists, the art-historians etc. It suddenly becomes unquestionable to quarry this wonderful mine once more, when trying to understand the world, the poet lived in. MEDIEVAL HISTORIES

[The] contributors.present their ideas clearly and concretely [and] the volume should help scholars arrive at an informed opinion about the poem's date. ANGLIA

The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment is bound to become one of the most influential books in Anglo-Saxon studies. The first-rate essays in this volume will steer the course of Beowulf scholarship in many productive directions, supplying the field with a secure foundation for future literaryhistorical research. MODERN PHILOLOGY

The contributors' various methodologies are more technical and more objective than those of pre-1981 early-dating arguments, and collectively offer a cohesive and compelling case for Beowulf's early composition. Not only is this volume a necessary companion for the 1981 collection, it stands on its own as an introduction to key issues in the dating of Old English poetry. Essential. CHOICE

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