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Combining historical, literary and linguistic evidence from Old English and Latin, Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England creates a new, more complete picture of who and what pre-Conquest English poets really were. It includes a study of Anglo-Saxon words for 'poet' and the first list of named poets in Anglo-Saxon England. Its survey of known poets identifies four social roles that poets often held - teachers, scribes, musicians and courtiers - and explores the kinds of poetry created by these individuals. The book also offers a new model for understanding the role of social groups in poets' experience: it argues that the presence or absence of a poetic community affected the work of Anglo-Saxon poets at all levels, from minute technical detail to the portrayal of character. This focus on poetic communities provides a new way to understand the intersection of history and literature in the Middle Ages.Read more
- Rethinks what it meant to be a poet in Anglo-Saxon England and the social role of Anglo-Saxon verse
- Thoroughly integrates evidence from Latin and Old English, with translations throughout, to provide a complete picture of Anglo-Saxon literary culture
- Draws on literary and linguistic methodology to offer a new theoretical framework for understanding poetry
Reviews & endorsements
"A new generation of scholars is shaking up the work of the previous generation, and the best of them to date is Berkeley’s Emily Thornbury … [A] thoughtful and well-written book."
A. M. Juster, First ThingsSee more reviews
'… Thornbury's book is excellent and should be mandatory reading for all scholars and students of Anglo-Saxon literature. Her analysis of individual poetic creations is always precise, innovative, and fascinating.' Samantha Zacher, Journal of English and Germanic Philology
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- Date Published: March 2014
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107051980
- length: 338 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.62kg
- contains: 10 b/w illus. 1 map
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: how can we know about Anglo-Saxon poets?
1. What was a poet?
2. Who became poets?
3. The poet in the community
4. The poet alone
5. Spectral communities
Afterword: a way of happening
Appendix I. A handlist of named authors of Old English or Latin verse in Anglo-Saxon England
Appendix II. Skalds working in Anglo-Saxon England
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