Someone asked this on Quora and Oscar Tay gave a fascinating answer. The oldest recorded word In English is Gægogæ mægæ medu. The Undley Bracteate In 1982, a farmer in Undley Common, Suffolk, England, was walking across his field when he came across a fantastic bit of history: The Undley Bracteate, an Anglo-Saxon medallion dating … Continue reading What Is the Oldest English Word?
A great article on a classic of Old English Literature by Kristyn J. Miller.
Epic poems have incredible staying power both as literary achievements and as historical resources. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is one of the foremost examples of this. Despite its mythological themes, the story offers historians a rare insight into Anglo-Saxon ideals of masculinity, heroism, and society. At the same time, it presents literary scholars with a wellspring of opportunities to analyze symbolism and metaphor, as well as a look at the progression of our literary language.
Within the literary sphere, modern Beowulf criticism finds its origins in J.R.R. Tolkien. In his 1936 lecture at Oxford University, later transcribed as an essay, Tolkien argued:
I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem.
The essay goes on to reaffirm the value…
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