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The Cambridge Old English Reader

2nd Edition


  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107641310

£ 27.99

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About the Authors
  • This reader remains the only major new reader of Old English prose and verse in the past forty years. The second edition is extensively revised throughout, with the addition of a new 'Beginning Old English' section for newcomers to the Old English language, along with a new extract from Beowulf. The fifty-seven individual texts include established favourites such as The Battle of Maldon and Wulfstan's Sermon of the Wolf, as well as others not otherwise readily available, such as an extract from Apollonius of Tyre. Modern English glosses for every prose-passage and poem are provided on the same page as the text, along with extensive notes. A succinct reference grammar is appended, along with guides to pronunciation and to grammatical terminology. A comprehensive glossary lists and analyses all the Old English words that occur in the book. Headnotes to each of the six text sections, and to every individual text, establish their literary and historical contexts, and illustrate the rich cultural variety of Anglo-Saxon England. This second edition is an accessible and scholarly introduction to Old English.

    • Includes fifty-seven texts, including a wide range of prose and verse passages
    • Provides extensive annotation for each text, with glossing of words and phrases, and same-page modern English glosses for every prose-passage and poem
    • Contains a reference grammar of Old English, a guide to pronunciation, and a comprehensive glossary
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of previous edition: '… offering a bountiful assortment of diverse texts thoughtfully edited for basic students of Old English. The book seems to arise from a long and dedicated engagement with Old English pedagogy, and its sheer diversity and breadth of scope makes it likely that almost any teacher of Old English will find something in it of value … The rich banquet found in the Cambridge [Old English] Reader would not easily be exhausted in a semester, or even a year-long course in Old English; it is sure to inspire in both students and teachers alike a fresh dedication to the work of understanding Anglo-Saxon England.' R. Liuzza, The Medieval Review

    Review of previous edition: 'Marsden admirably fulfils his task of providing a canon-expanding list of texts.' R. Boenig, Medievalia et Humanistica

    Review of previous edition: 'The selection of texts covers ground that no previous reader has approached. There are items that will be of interest to specialists in women's studies and cultural studies … The reference grammar has the best presentation I have seen in a resource of this sort – the content is both comprehensive and concise; and the arrangement is logical and user-friendly. The headnotes are also outstanding …' Paul Remley, University of Washington, Seattle

    Review of previous edition: 'Marsden has done a masterful job of glossing and annotating the texts in the Reader … he gets the level of annotation just right for a university-level student of the subject. I admire his headnotes very much for the amount of material he manages to convey in a relatively short space … I think that this book will be very easy to teach from. The number of texts that he offers in the book is remarkable and admirable … in addition, the careful level of glossing and annotation of some difficult texts means that a teacher can assign a much wider range of texts than usual in an introductory course …' Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, University of Notre Dame

    Review of previous edition: 'Marsden's Reader is traditional … The preliminaries offer sensible and succinct observations on such matters a as punctuation, spelling variation, and emendation (admirably kept to a minimum except for the Colloquy) … [His] convenient and thought-provoking rough categorization brings to the front of his reader two groupings that could prompt teachers of Old English to think out their courses anew.' English Language and Linguistics

    '… this remains an invaluable reader …' A. P. Church, Choice

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    Product details

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107641310
    • length: 614 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 32 mm
    • weight: 0.87kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Preface to the second edition
    Preface to the first edition
    List of abbreviations
    Beginning Old English
    1. Getting started
    2. Practice sentences
    3. Practice texts
    4. Keys to test sentences and texts
    5. Beginning poetry
    The Texts: Part I. Teaching and Learning:
    1. In the Schoolroom (from Ælfric's Colloquy)
    2. A Personal Miscellany (from Ælfwine's Prayerbook)
    3. Medicinal Remedies (from Bald's Leechbook)
    4. Learning Latin (from Ælfric's Excerptiones de arte grammatica anglice)
    5. A New Beginning (Alfred's 'preface' to his translation of Gregory's Cura pastoralis)
    6. The Wagonwheel of Fate (from Alfred's translation of Boethius's De consolatione Philosophiae)
    Part II. Keeping a Record:
    7. Laws of the Anglo-Saxon Kings
    8. England under Attack (from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: annals for 981–93, 995–8 and 1002–3)
    9. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People
    10. The Battle of Brunanburh
    11. The Will of Ælfgifu
    12. The Fonthill Letter
    Part III. Spreading the Word:
    13. After the Flood (from the Old English Hexateuch: Gen 8.6–18 and 9.8–13)
    14. The Crucifixion (from the Old English Gospels: Mt 27.11–54)
    15. King Alfred's Psalms
    16. A Translator's Problems (Ælfric's preface to his translation of Genesis)
    17. Satan's Challenge (Genesis B, lines 338–441)
    18. The Drowning of Pharaoh's Army (Exodus, lines 447–564)
    19. Judith
    Part IV. Example and Exhortation:
    20. Bede's Death Song
    21. Two Holy Women
    22. A Homily for Easter Sunday (from Ælfric's Sermones catholicae)
    23. The Dream of the Rood
    24. On False Gods (Wulfstan's De falsis deis)
    25. The Sermon of the Wolf (Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi)
    26. The Seafarer
    Part V. Telling Tales:
    27. Falling in Love (from Apollonius of Tyre)
    28. The Trees of the Sun and the Moon (from The Letter of Alexander)
    29. Cynewulf and Cyneheard (from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: annal for 755)
    30. The Battle of Maldon
    31. Beowulf
    32. The Fight at Finnsburh
    Part VI. Reflection and Lament:
    33. Truth is Trickiest (Maxims II)
    34. The Durham Proverbs
    35. Five Anglo-Saxon Riddles
    36. Deor
    37. The Ruin
    38. The Wanderer
    39. Wulf and Eadwacer
    40. The Wife's Lament
    Manuscripts and textual emendations
    The writing and pronunciation of Old English
    Reference grammar of Old English
    Guide to terms

  • Author

    Richard Marsden, University of Nottingham
    Richard Marsden is Emeritus Professor of Old English at the University of Nottingham. In addition to numerous articles on Old English literature and language and the history of the Latin Bible, he has published The Text of the Old Testament in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge, 1995) and an edition of The Old English Heptateuch for the Early English Text Society (2008).

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