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Re: New Beowulf

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  • ERATRIANO@aol.com
    In a message dated 02/28/2000 7:28:40 PM Eastern Standard Time, lisa@harrigan.org writes:
    Message 1 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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      In a message dated 02/28/2000 7:28:40 PM Eastern Standard Time,
      lisa@... writes:

      << He did give the
      translation a nice poetic flow and did translate everything >>
      Is it alliterative?

      Lizzie
    • Ted Sherman
      ... Well, it depends on what you mean by like Beowulf. OE literature contains many great work, some short and some long. Beowulf is sui generis in terms of
      Message 2 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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        "David S. Bratman" wrote:
        >
        > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
        >
        > On Mon, 28 Feb 2000, Lisa Deutsch Harrigan wrote:
        >
        > > Since this one has done so well in England, may be they will translate some of
        > > the other Old Stories? I'd like to see them too.
        >
        > The sad fact is that there's nothing else like Beowulf in Old English
        > literature, and we almost didn't have Beowulf, either: it survives in a
        > single manuscript of unknown provenance, which almost burned in a fire
        > some 400-500 years ago, long before it was adequately transcribed.

        Well, it depends on what you mean by "like Beowulf." OE literature
        contains many great work, some short and some long. Beowulf is sui
        generis in terms of its matter; that is, aside from the one surviving
        manuscript of Beowulf, there are no other stories of Beowulf the Geat.
        We do have, at the very least, other references to such great Germanic
        heroes and characters as Siegfried and Sigemund, Attila and Gudrun,
        Welund and Walter, Finn and Hengist; but there's only one story that
        mentions Beowulf. BTW, the Beowulf manuscript was damaged in the great
        fire in 1731 at Ashburnam House, and other manuscripts were destroyed
        and/or nearly destroyed. One of the current projects at the British
        LIbrary is to recover the texts--via UV photography with a Kontron
        camera--contained in some of those burnt mss.

        > There probably were other great Old English epics that _didn't_ survive,
        > of which we have only tiny surviving hints: Wayland the Smith, for
        > instance. It was because the English didn't have an Edda, or a
        > Nibelungenlied, or an Odyssey or Aeneid, or a Charlemagne cycle, that
        > Tolkien decided to make one up on his own.

        Well, England did have its own cycle: the Arthurian cycle. (I know that
        some/much of the Arthurian material comes from France.) Beowulf is
        England's Nibelungenlied, and it antedates the Nibelungenlied by at
        least 175 years. The Brut by Layamon could easily be viewed as England's
        Odyssey or Aeneid, especially the latter (since it kind of takes up
        where the Aeneid stops).

        >
        > (As for why the English are so bereft, that permits of a three-word
        > oversimpliciation for an answer: the Norman Conquest.)
        >
        Actually, the Norman Conquest is only partially responsible; the main
        culprits, really, are the Vikings and Henry VIII. When the Vikings began
        invading in the late 8th century, they sacked and destroyed monasteries
        and the monastic libraries. It's a miracle that the two greatest OE
        manuscripts, The Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells, still
        survive. In 1536/38 Henry dissolved the monasteries and confiscated
        them; one of the results was the dispersal of many of the monastic
        libraries as well as the destruction of the monasteries and their
        medieval sculptures and stained-glass windows. That's why the Ruthwell
        Cross--which contains a 7th-8th century runic inscription of portions of
        the great OE elegy "The Dream of the Rood"--is broken and the
        inscription so weather damaged. The reformers, following Henry, cast
        down the cross and left it to weather away. It wasn't until the 19th
        century that it was put back together (though with part missing) and
        placed in a chapel.

        Another BTW: the English don't really value Beowulf as much as the press
        might lead one to believe. In the past few decades Beowulf and other
        areas of Anglo-Saxon culture (as in the culture in Britain from c.
        450-1066) have gradually been removed from the curriculum, so that now
        relatively few students actually study Beowulf. Also, for the Whitbread
        Prize, which Heaney's translation won, the vote was split: five judges
        voted for Beowulf and four for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
        Azkhaban. Two different versions of Heaney's Beowulf are now available
        in the US: a straight translation as well as a copy with Beowulf in OE
        and Heaney's translation on facing pages.

        Ted

        --
        Dr. Theodore James Sherman
        Department of English, Box X041
        College of Liberal Arts
        Middle Tennessee State University
        Murfreesboro, TN 37130
        615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
        tsherman@...
        tedsherman@...
      • Stolzi@aol.com
        In a message dated 2/29/00 9:12:51 AM Central Standard Time, ... Hmm! What exactly does the Whitbread Prize reward? What a combo. I won t say from the
        Message 3 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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          In a message dated 2/29/00 9:12:51 AM Central Standard Time,
          tedsherman@... writes:

          > Also, for the Whitbread
          > Prize, which Heaney's translation won, the vote was split: five judges
          > voted for Beowulf and four for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
          > Azkhaban.

          Hmm! What exactly does the Whitbread Prize reward?

          What a combo. I won't say "from the sublime to the ridiculous," for I quite
          like Harry, but there =is= a disproportion here.
        • Ted Sherman
          The Whitbread is for, if I remember correctly, best book of the year in England. Ted ... -- Dr. Theodore James Sherman Department of English, Box X041 College
          Message 4 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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            The Whitbread is for, if I remember correctly, best book of the year in
            England.

            Ted

            Stolzi@... wrote:
            >
            > From: Stolzi@...
            >
            > In a message dated 2/29/00 9:12:51 AM Central Standard Time,
            > tedsherman@... writes:
            >
            > > Also, for the Whitbread
            > > Prize, which Heaney's translation won, the vote was split: five judges
            > > voted for Beowulf and four for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
            > > Azkhaban.
            >
            > Hmm! What exactly does the Whitbread Prize reward?
            >
            > What a combo. I won't say "from the sublime to the ridiculous," for I quite
            > like Harry, but there =is= a disproportion here.
            >
            > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            > Show your style! Choose from 6 great card designs when you
            > apply for Capital One's 9.9% Fixed APR Visa Platinum.
            > http://click.egroups.com/1/1894/3/_/505012/_/951842337/
            > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            >
            > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

            --
            Dr. Theodore James Sherman
            Department of English, Box X041
            College of Liberal Arts
            Middle Tennessee State University
            Murfreesboro, TN 37130
            615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
            tsherman@...
            tedsherman@...
          • David S. Bratman
            ... When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I didn t mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the man
            Message 5 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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              On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Ted Sherman wrote:

              > "David S. Bratman" wrote:
              > >
              > > The sad fact is that there's nothing else like Beowulf in Old English
              > > literature, and we almost didn't have Beowulf, either: it survives in a
              > > single manuscript of unknown provenance, which almost burned in a fire
              > > some 400-500 years ago, long before it was adequately transcribed.
              >
              > Well, it depends on what you mean by "like Beowulf." OE literature
              > contains many great work, some short and some long. Beowulf is sui
              > generis in terms of its matter; that is, aside from the one surviving
              > manuscript of Beowulf, there are no other stories of Beowulf the Geat.

              When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I
              didn't mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the
              man Beowulf. There are some great short poems in OE, but I know of no
              other works of creative art in that language remotely comparable to it in
              combination of length and quality. If you do, I would like to know of them.

              > Well, England did have its own cycle: the Arthurian cycle. (I know that
              > some/much of the Arthurian material comes from France.)

              For Tolkien, the Arthurian cycle didn't count. He said it was
              imperfectly naturalized, by which he meant not so much that a great deal
              of what we think of as Arthurian comes from Chretien and other French
              romancers, but that the whole retains a Celtic air: it isn't English, and
              he wanted something English.

              > The Brut by Layamon could easily be viewed as England's
              > Odyssey or Aeneid, especially the latter (since it kind of takes up
              > where the Aeneid stops).

              A good point, though the Brut is of course not Old English but Middle
              English. It's not the only English work that is in a sense a sequel to
              the Aeneid (which certainly seems to have had more of a hold on the
              British imagination than it does on mine): Geoffrey of Monmouth's History
              (in Latin, unfortunately for the sake of OE literature) also ties in to
              the Aeneid, and doesn't "Gawain and the Green Knight" start off with some
              references to the Odyssey/Aeneid period? (I don't have a copy here to
              check.)

              > > (As for why the English are so bereft, that permits of a three-word
              > > oversimpliciation for an answer: the Norman Conquest.)
              > >
              > Actually, the Norman Conquest is only partially responsible; the main
              > culprits, really, are the Vikings and Henry VIII.

              As I said, an oversimplification. While the Vikings and H8 did the
              destruction, they and others like them destroyed many more ancient
              manuscripts, in many languages in many times and places, than they ever
              let survive. What's the fault of the Norman Conquest is that there
              weren't _more (and later) copies_, a few of which might have survived.
              (The Vikings didn't help much there either.)

              David Bratman
              -not responsible for the following advertisement-
            • ERATRIANO@aol.com
              In a message dated 02/29/2000 11:43:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes: Yes,
              Message 6 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                In a message dated 02/29/2000 11:43:30 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                Stolzi@... writes:

                << for I quite
                like Harry, but there =is= a disproportion here. >>
                Yes, an interesting assortment. I just started Harry the other day. what
                fun!

                Lizzie
              • David Lenander
                Yes, I agree with you, Mary. I m dubious about the necessity of rewarding Heaney s translation of Beowulf, for that matter. The news report I saw said that
                Message 7 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                  Yes, I agree with you, Mary. I'm dubious about the necessity of rewarding
                  Heaney's translation of Beowulf, for that matter. The news report I saw said
                  that in part the award recognizes popularity. Personally, I think such an
                  award is pretty silly. The financial reward and popularity ought to be reward
                  enough, and I don't especially begrudge Harry Potter the popularity, but I
                  think awards to call our attention to lesser-known but worthwhile works make
                  more sense. And today is the deadline for e-mailing nominations to Ellie
                  Farrell for the Mythopoeic Scholarship and Fantasy Awards.

                  This morning in the car we were listening to Jane Yolen's _Wizard's Hall_ on an
                  audiotape. Quite similar in some respects to Harry Potter, it's a earlier book
                  that hasn't had near the the notice or readers. I don't know if the story is
                  any better than Harry Potter, it's much shorter and not so breakneck in pacing,
                  and probably written for slightly younger readers, but it is told with more
                  finesse, grace and style by a writer who has mastered her craft on a level
                  towards which Rowlings is still climbing. Quite different from Harry Potter
                  but likewise worthy of more readers are such past winners of the MFA as Diana
                  Wynne Jones' _Dark Lord of Derkholm_ (last year's children's division winner)
                  and Jane Yolen's "Young Merlin" trilogy (winner the year before). Dark Lord
                  seemed to me as much fun as Harry Potter, but much more complex and
                  interesting, and while "Young Merlin" is not a lot of fun, it's strikingly
                  beautiful in its spare, poetic prose and story construction, and full of action
                  in a story that is probably shorter--in all three volumes--than any one of the
                  Harry Potter books. Both of these books are probably aimed at somewhat older
                  readers than Harry Potter's target audience. In saying this, by the way, I'm
                  not disparaging Harry Potter, which I enjoyed, at least the first two books
                  that I've read (my 10-year old daughter and most of her class at school have
                  avidly read all three).

                  Stolzi@... wrote:

                  > From: Stolzi@...
                  >
                  > In a message dated 2/29/00 9:12:51 AM Central Standard Time,
                  > tedsherman@... writes:
                  >
                  > > Also, for the Whitbread
                  > > Prize, which Heaney's translation won, the vote was split: five judges
                  > > voted for Beowulf and four for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
                  > > Azkhaban.
                  >
                  > Hmm! What exactly does the Whitbread Prize reward?
                  >
                  > What a combo. I won't say "from the sublime to the ridiculous," for I quite
                  > like Harry, but there =is= a disproportion here.
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  > Show your style! Choose from 6 great card designs when you
                  > apply for Capital One's 9.9% Fixed APR Visa Platinum.
                  > http://click.egroups.com/1/1894/3/_/505012/_/951842337/
                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  >
                  > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                • Ted Sherman
                  Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn t he also later Rawlinson Professor
                  Message 8 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                    Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was
                    Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn't he also later
                    Rawlinson Professor when at Merton?).

                    "David S. Bratman" wrote:
                    >
                    > From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>
                    >
                    > When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I
                    > didn't mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the
                    > man Beowulf. There are some great short poems in OE, but I know of no
                    > other works of creative art in that language remotely comparable to it in
                    > combination of length and quality. If you do, I would like to know of them.
                    >
                    The so-called Caedmonian poems--Genesis (A and B), Exodus, Daniel,
                    Azarias; the Cynewulf poems--Elene, the Fates of the Apostles, Andreas,
                    etc.--as well as Judith (the other poetic piece in Cotton Vitellius
                    A.xv, the Beowulf manuscript): these are all "remotely comparable" in
                    length and quality. The key word, obviously, is "remotely." Then there's
                    some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
                    the Finnsbug Fragment.

                    > > Well, England did have its own cycle: the Arthurian cycle. (I know that
                    > > some/much of the Arthurian material comes from France.)
                    >
                    > For Tolkien, the Arthurian cycle didn't count. He said it was
                    > imperfectly naturalized, by which he meant not so much that a great deal
                    > of what we think of as Arthurian comes from Chretien and other French
                    > romancers, but that the whole retains a Celtic air: it isn't English, and
                    > he wanted something English.
                    >
                    Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
                    non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
                    is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
                    are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
                    immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
                    Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
                    French air are.

                    > > The Brut by Layamon could easily be viewed as England's
                    > > Odyssey or Aeneid, especially the latter (since it kind of takes up
                    > > where the Aeneid stops).
                    >
                    > A good point, though the Brut is of course not Old English but Middle
                    > English. It's not the only English work that is in a sense a sequel to
                    > the Aeneid (which certainly seems to have had more of a hold on the
                    > British imagination than it does on mine): Geoffrey of Monmouth's History
                    > (in Latin, unfortunately for the sake of OE literature) also ties in to
                    > the Aeneid, and doesn't "Gawain and the Green Knight" start off with some
                    > references to the Odyssey/Aeneid period? (I don't have a copy here to
                    > check.)
                    >
                    Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
                    there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
                    material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
                    Nennius, Gildas, etc.

                    > > > (As for why the English are so bereft, that permits of a three-word
                    > > > oversimpliciation for an answer: the Norman Conquest.)
                    > > >
                    > > Actually, the Norman Conquest is only partially responsible; the main
                    > > culprits, really, are the Vikings and Henry VIII.
                    >
                    > As I said, an oversimplification. While the Vikings and H8 did the
                    > destruction, they and others like them destroyed many more ancient
                    > manuscripts, in many languages in many times and places, than they ever
                    > let survive. What's the fault of the Norman Conquest is that there
                    > weren't _more (and later) copies_, a few of which might have survived.
                    > (The Vikings didn't help much there either.)
                    >
                    Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
                    Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
                    OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
                    and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
                    English abbots and bishops with French ones.

                    What the Norman Conquest really did was the screw up the language and
                    spelling of English; but that's another topic.

                    Ted

                    --
                    Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                    Department of English, Box X041
                    College of Liberal Arts
                    Middle Tennessee State University
                    Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                    615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                    tsherman@...
                    tedsherman@...
                  • David S. Bratman
                    ... Rawlinson _and_ Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, 1925-45, after which he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature (also at
                    Message 9 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                      On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Ted Sherman wrote:

                      > Just to keep this on topic (for those who are unaware), Tolkien was
                      > Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (and wasn't he also later
                      > Rawlinson Professor when at Merton?).

                      Rawlinson _and_ Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, 1925-45,
                      after which he was Merton Professor of English Language and Literature
                      (also at Oxford, but attached specifically to Merton College); in the
                      latter job he worked mostly on Middle English literature.

                      > > When I wrote that there is nothing else like Beowulf in OE literature, I
                      > > didn't mean just that there were no other versions of the story of the
                      > > man Beowulf. There are some great short poems in OE, but I know of no
                      > > other works of creative art in that language remotely comparable to it in
                      > > combination of length and quality. If you do, I would like to know of them.
                      > >
                      > The so-called Caedmonian poems--Genesis (A and B), Exodus, Daniel,
                      > Azarias; the Cynewulf poems--Elene, the Fates of the Apostles, Andreas,
                      > etc.--as well as Judith (the other poetic piece in Cotton Vitellius
                      > A.xv, the Beowulf manuscript): these are all "remotely comparable" in
                      > length and quality. The key word, obviously, is "remotely." Then there's
                      > some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
                      > the Finnsbug Fragment.

                      I know the last two, and they're very short (though good), and I thought
                      Cynewulf's poems were short too. Exodus (which I also know slightly,
                      because Tolkien wrote about it) is much longer, but it's a retelling of
                      the Bible story, so perhaps it doesn't count. (OTOH, who's to say that
                      Beowulf isn't a retelling of something lost? It probably is, come to that.)

                      > Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
                      > non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
                      > is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
                      > are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
                      > immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
                      > Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
                      > French air are.

                      Dorothy Sayers liked to make that point: that the English were not only a
                      mongrel nation, they were uniquely proud of it. That's not how Tolkien
                      viewed things, though. He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
                      he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
                      things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
                      Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
                      that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
                      steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
                      lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."

                      > Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
                      > there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
                      > material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
                      > Nennius, Gildas, etc.

                      A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
                      there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
                      believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
                      stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
                      language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
                      (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
                      English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
                      masterpiece of OE literature.)

                      > Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
                      > Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
                      > OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
                      > and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
                      > English abbots and bishops with French ones.

                      I didn't mean that the Normans destroyed things, but by taking over and
                      putting the cultured use of the English language on ice for a couple
                      hundred years, they severely reduced the impetus to make more copies.
                      Considering how very few manuscript copies were made of anything
                      pre-Gutenberg, in any country, and how very fewer of them survived the
                      vicissitudes of the centuries, any marginal difference can be vitally
                      important.

                      David Bratman
                      -not responsible for the following advertisement-
                    • WendellWag@aol.com
                      In a message dated 2/29/00 12:34:09 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... England. To be more precise, there are Whitbread awards for best novel, best first novel,
                      Message 10 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                        In a message dated 2/29/00 12:34:09 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                        tedsherman@... writes:

                        > The Whitbread is for, if I remember correctly, best book of the year in
                        England.

                        To be more precise, there are Whitbread awards for best novel, best first
                        novel, best biography, best book of poetry, and best children's book. Each
                        of them is worth 2000 pounds, except for children's book, which is worth
                        10,000 pounds. There is also an overall award chosen from the winners, which
                        is the book of the year, and this wins 21,000 pounds in addition.

                        Whitbread, which sponsors the award, is one of the biggest breweries in
                        England.

                        See

                        http://www.whitbread-bookawards.co.uk/

                        for more information.

                        Wendell Wagner
                      • Ted Sherman
                        ... The Battle of Maldon is approximately 350 lines, whereas the Finnsburg fragment is only about 35-40. Why wouldn t a retelling of a Bible story count?
                        Message 11 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
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                          "David S. Bratman" wrote:
                          >

                          > > some of the fragmentary pieces: Battle of Maldon (simply glorious) and
                          > > the Finnsbug Fragment.
                          >
                          > I know the last two, and they're very short (though good), and I thought
                          > Cynewulf's poems were short too. Exodus (which I also know slightly,
                          > because Tolkien wrote about it) is much longer, but it's a retelling of
                          > the Bible story, so perhaps it doesn't count. (OTOH, who's to say that
                          > Beowulf isn't a retelling of something lost? It probably is, come to that.)

                          The Battle of Maldon is approximately 350 lines, whereas the Finnsburg
                          fragment is only about 35-40. Why wouldn't a retelling of a Bible story
                          count? Genesis B contains material based on Genesis, but it also
                          contains material that John Milton likely used in Paradise Lost. It's as
                          literary as one can get. Refashioning earlier texts was common
                          throughout the Anglo-Saxon period--and later.

                          >
                          > > Yes, I knew Tolkien didn't count the Arthurian cycle because of its
                          > > non-native elements as well as its "Celtic air." The problem, however,
                          > > is with the whole notion of how to define "English." The English
                          > > are/were an amalgam of native British (read Celtic), Roman soldier
                          > > immigrants, Germanic invaders, Norse and French invaders, etc. The
                          > > Celtic air is in the atmosphere of England, just as the Germanic air and
                          > > French air are.
                          >
                          > Dorothy Sayers liked to make that point: that the English were not only a
                          > mongrel nation, they were uniquely proud of it. That's not how Tolkien
                          > viewed things, though. He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
                          > he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
                          > things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
                          > Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
                          > that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
                          > steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
                          > lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."
                          >
                          Frankly, I don't see the point of the latter quotations. JRRT might have
                          wished to isolate a "pure Anglo-Saxon strain" but he needn't have tried.
                          There wasn't one. Just when the "English" did begin to develop into
                          their own people and own country, they would be disturbed from Outside.
                          Those disturbances came from the Vikings, the Normans, and later the
                          Flemish, Italians, Dutch, etc., from the late Middle Ages on. King
                          Alfred was probably the closest one could come to a "pure Anglo-Saxon"
                          but his entire life--almost--was spent confronting the Danes.

                          > > Good point, David, about the Brut being in ME, but keep in mind that
                          > > there isn't a clear break between Old and Middle English. And much
                          > > material now in OE was originally written in Latin: Bede's History,
                          > > Nennius, Gildas, etc.
                          >
                          > A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
                          > there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
                          > believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
                          > stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
                          > language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
                          > (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
                          > English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
                          > masterpiece of OE literature.)
                          >
                          No, not really. There is much early creative material, it's just not
                          very popular today, nor is it studied or read much because of its
                          didactic and hagiographic elements. There are early ballads and lyrics,
                          and a few of the romances (Havelock the Dane comes to mind) are rather
                          early. Alfred's Boethius is considered a masterpiece of OE literature
                          precisely because Alfred rendered it into English. Just as Bede's
                          History is a masterpiece. There are also the riddles, chronicles,
                          saints' lives and numerous other works that were translated into OE that
                          are masterpieces of OE prose and/or poetry.

                          BTW, when I mentioned the break between OE and ME, I was referring more
                          to the language. Parts of the island probably retained OE well into the
                          late 12th century, if not the early 13th. The earliest datable document
                          in ME is the entry for the year 1135 in the Peterborough Chronicle of
                          the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

                          > > Again, I don't know (and I could easily be wrong) that the Norman
                          > > Conquest is the cause for there not being more and later copies of much
                          > > OE material. The Normans didn't necessarily lay waste to the monasteries
                          > > and scriptoria in their conquest of England; they did, however, replace
                          > > English abbots and bishops with French ones.
                          >
                          > I didn't mean that the Normans destroyed things, but by taking over and
                          > putting the cultured use of the English language on ice for a couple
                          > hundred years, they severely reduced the impetus to make more copies.
                          > Considering how very few manuscript copies were made of anything
                          > pre-Gutenberg, in any country, and how very fewer of them survived the
                          > vicissitudes of the centuries, any marginal difference can be vitally
                          > important.
                          >
                          But copies were being made in the ME period; just look at one of the
                          volumes in the Index of Middle English Verse to see how many works were
                          copied. There are numerous copies of Monmouth's History, and they were
                          all copied in the ME period. There are redactions and redactions of
                          numerous works, making the lives of us textual editors interesting.
                          Again, while numerous manuscripts and tales/poetry undoubtedly were
                          destroyed during the centuries, it is quite amazing, really, that we
                          have the number of manuscripts that do survive from the OE and ME
                          periods.

                          Ted
                          --
                          Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                          Department of English, Box X041
                          College of Liberal Arts
                          Middle Tennessee State University
                          Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                          615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                          tsherman@...
                          tedsherman@...
                        • WendellWag@aol.com
                          In a message dated 2/28/00 6:43:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... Huh?
                          Message 12 of 27 , Mar 1, 2000
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                            In a message dated 2/28/00 6:43:17 PM Eastern Standard Time,
                            ERATRIANO@... writes:

                            > And some antlered lord tales. Why is this figure so elusive?

                            Huh?
                          • David S. Bratman
                            ... I expect because it s not fully naturalized, as Tolkien said of the Arthurian material. Whether it s a re-telling doesn t count. You d have to ask
                            Message 13 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                              On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Ted Sherman wrote:

                              > Why wouldn't a retelling of a Bible story
                              > count? Genesis B contains material based on Genesis, but it also
                              > contains material that John Milton likely used in Paradise Lost. It's as
                              > literary as one can get. Refashioning earlier texts was common
                              > throughout the Anglo-Saxon period--and later.

                              I expect because it's not fully naturalized, as Tolkien said of the
                              Arthurian material. Whether it's a re-telling doesn't count. You'd have
                              to ask Tolkien, really; he, not I, was the one who originally said there
                              was no real Anglo-Saxon mythology, and surely these major OE texts didn't
                              just slip his mind.

                              > > He felt there was a pure Anglo-Saxon strain which
                              > > he wished to isolate. As Americans, with our melting pot, we're used to
                              > > things being naturalized as soon as they step off the boat. Many
                              > > Europeans view things differently (one reason for the xenophobic politics
                              > > that look so strange to us). "How many years does it take to make a
                              > > steward a king, if the king return not?" "Few years, maybe, in other
                              > > lands. In Gondor ten thousand years would not suffice."
                              > >
                              > Frankly, I don't see the point of the latter quotations. JRRT might have
                              > wished to isolate a "pure Anglo-Saxon strain" but he needn't have tried.
                              > There wasn't one. Just when the "English" did begin to develop into
                              > their own people and own country, they would be disturbed from Outside.
                              > Those disturbances came from the Vikings, the Normans, and later the
                              > Flemish, Italians, Dutch, etc., from the late Middle Ages on. King
                              > Alfred was probably the closest one could come to a "pure Anglo-Saxon"
                              > but his entire life--almost--was spent confronting the Danes.

                              The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                              country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group. What you say shows
                              that there was no time when the Anglo-Saxons had Britain quietly all to
                              themselves. This is reflected in LOTR when Frodo bristles at the notion
                              of the Nazgul wandering around in his own Shire. "But it is not your own
                              Shire," says Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others
                              will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all
                              about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it
                              out."

                              So you can't write about hobbits without including their relationship
                              with other peoples, and indeed Tolkien doesn't. But that doesn't make
                              hobbits any less of an individual, separable people with their own
                              traditions and their own customs. And the same is true of the
                              Anglo-Saxons. However much time they spent interacting with French and
                              Germans, and however many Celts and Vikings were also occupying Britain,
                              the Anglo-Saxons were their own people with their own ethnic identity (as
                              we'd say today), and the heart of England, the land Tolkien loved, was
                              their own country, even though it hadn't always been, and even though
                              others might also claim it as their own. (It's not incompatible.)

                              > > A fairly clear break, I think, as far as creative literature is concerned,
                              > > there being a long gap without much except the Ancrene Wisse, which I
                              > > believe is clearly ME, though certainly early ME. As for the Latin
                              > > stuff, precisely because it's in Latin it's not OE literature in the
                              > > language sense, except insofar as the translations are literature.
                              > > (Which they are: after all, King Alfred translated Boethius, who wasn't
                              > > English by nationality let alone language, and that's considered a
                              > > masterpiece of OE literature.)
                              > >
                              > No, not really. There is much early creative material, it's just not
                              > very popular today, nor is it studied or read much because of its
                              > didactic and hagiographic elements. There are early ballads and lyrics,
                              > and a few of the romances (Havelock the Dane comes to mind) are rather
                              > early. Alfred's Boethius is considered a masterpiece of OE literature
                              > precisely because Alfred rendered it into English. Just as Bede's
                              > History is a masterpiece. There are also the riddles, chronicles,
                              > saints' lives and numerous other works that were translated into OE that
                              > are masterpieces of OE prose and/or poetry.

                              But they're not major works of the _native OE creative imagination_ the
                              way that Beowulf is (even if what we have is a retelling). That's the
                              difference. I wouldn't allow my love for the Silmarillion, or the
                              History of Middle-earth, or Farmer Giles of Ham, to blind me to the fact
                              that LOTR is Tolkien's single outstanding masterpiece; nor does this
                              other stuff take away from Beowulf's unique status.

                              > BTW, when I mentioned the break between OE and ME, I was referring more
                              > to the language. Parts of the island probably retained OE well into the
                              > late 12th century, if not the early 13th. The earliest datable document
                              > in ME is the entry for the year 1135 in the Peterborough Chronicle of
                              > the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

                              No language break is is perfectly sharp, either chronologically or
                              geographically, but those between OE and ME, and ME and Modern English,
                              are sharper than most. In any case the OE/ME evolution was long over
                              before the 14th century which was the time of all the major ME literary
                              masterpieces. (Yes, I know there was plenty of other literature. I'm
                              talking about outstanding masterpieces.)

                              > But copies were being made in the ME period; just look at one of the
                              > volumes in the Index of Middle English Verse to see how many works were
                              > copied. There are numerous copies of Monmouth's History, and they were
                              > all copied in the ME period. There are redactions and redactions of
                              > numerous works, making the lives of us textual editors interesting.
                              > Again, while numerous manuscripts and tales/poetry undoubtedly were
                              > destroyed during the centuries, it is quite amazing, really, that we
                              > have the number of manuscripts that do survive from the OE and ME
                              > periods.

                              The glass is half-full! No, the glass is half-empty!

                              It would be a lot fuller if the OE literary, linguistic and ecclesiastical
                              traditions hadn't been so severely disrupted by the Normans. We can be
                              delighted with what we have, and still note there could have been a lot
                              more. In particular, as Tolkien noted, there are many OE legendary
                              figures (Wayland the Smith comes to mind) of whom we know nothing but
                              their names and a few scraps, but of whom mighty epics were perhaps once
                              told. No way to be sure.

                              If there's any distinctively native English mythology that Tolkien
                              ignored when he made his complaint, it's Robin Hood. But not only is
                              Robin Hood ME and not OE (thus irrelevant to Lisa's original comment),
                              but the literature consisted of ballads and other short works, didn't
                              receive any full-scale treatments until the 19C, and unless you count
                              Howard Pyle still lacks IMHO a good one.

                              David Bratman
                              - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                            • WendellWag@aol.com
                              In a message dated 3/3/00 6:18:11 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... So Tolkien wasn t really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of them anyway)?
                              Message 14 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                In a message dated 3/3/00 6:18:11 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                dbratman@... writes:

                                > The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                                > country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group.

                                So Tolkien wasn't really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of
                                them anyway)?
                              • David S. Bratman
                                ... Man, I m getting it from both sides this week, aren t I? If by his German ancestors, you mean the ones who _weren t_ Anglo-Saxons, and who were responsible
                                Message 15 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                  On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                                  > > The point of the quotation is that, by analogy, mere residence in a
                                  > > country doesn't make one part of an ethnic group.
                                  >
                                  > So Tolkien wasn't really English, but German like his ancestors (or some of
                                  > them anyway)?

                                  Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?

                                  If by his German ancestors, you mean the ones who _weren't_ Anglo-Saxons,
                                  and who were responsible for the name Tolkien, please refer to Letter 95
                                  ("For barring the Tolkien (which must long ago have become a pretty thin
                                  strand) you [CT] are a Mercian or Hwiccian on both sides"), Letter 44
                                  ("Though a Tolkien by name, I am a Suffield by tastes, talents, and
                                  upbringing"), and Letter 165 ("I am neither `foolhardy' not German,
                                  whatever SOME [emphasis added] remote ancestors may have been. They
                                  migrated to England more than 200 years ago, and became quickly intensely
                                  English ... I am in fact far more of a Suffield"). In other words, the
                                  German side was a tiny strand in his ancestry, which would never have
                                  been noticed had it not been the line that provided his surname. In any
                                  case they did naturalize, and it was thus more than mere residence.

                                  If by his German ancestors you mean the fact that the Anglo-Saxons
                                  originally came from Germany, that's reductionist. The point of my
                                  quotation about Gondor and the 10,000 years was that it takes time to
                                  naturalize, a long time. But England isn't Gondor, either, and 1500
                                  years is surely long enough.

                                  David Bratman
                                  - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                                • WendellWag@aol.com
                                  In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... I m sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn t mean it as an attack on you. An attack on
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                    In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                    dbratman@... writes:

                                    > Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?

                                    I'm sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn't mean it as an attack on
                                    you. An attack on Tolkien, possibly, but not on you.

                                    I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                                    (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                                    country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                                    years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                                    about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                                    about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.

                                    Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                                    letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                                    the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                                    who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                                    the book would be utter heresy.

                                    Wendell Wagner
                                  • Ted Sherman
                                    David, I also was not attacking you, or JRRT; this is just an instance where I think he was wrong (thankfully, there are very few times where I disagree with
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                      David,

                                      I also was not attacking you, or JRRT; this is just an instance where I
                                      think he was wrong (thankfully, there are very few times where I
                                      disagree with him).

                                      Ted

                                      WendellWag@... wrote:
                                      >
                                      > From: WendellWag@...
                                      >
                                      > In a message dated 3/3/00 7:20:01 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                      > dbratman@... writes:
                                      >
                                      > > Man, I'm getting it from both sides this week, aren't I?
                                      >
                                      > I'm sorry if that came out sounding nasty. I didn't mean it as an attack on
                                      > you. An attack on Tolkien, possibly, but not on you.
                                      >
                                      > I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                                      > (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                                      > country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                                      > years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                                      > about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                                      > about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.
                                      >
                                      > Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                                      > letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                                      > the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                                      > who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                                      > the book would be utter heresy.
                                      >
                                      > Wendell Wagner
                                      >
                                      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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                                      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      >
                                      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

                                      --
                                      Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                                      Department of English, Box X041
                                      College of Liberal Arts
                                      Middle Tennessee State University
                                      Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                                      615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                                      tsherman@...
                                      tedsherman@...
                                    • David S. Bratman
                                      ... Americans tend not, however, to make a big deal out of ancestors who were only 1/64th of their ancestry, unless it s something rare and special. I know
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                        On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                                        > I was referring to Tolkien's German ancestors, who were 1/64 of his ancestry
                                        > (or was it 1/32 or 1/128?). There are Americans who make a big deal of what
                                        > country their ancestors immigrated from, even if they immigrated over 200
                                        > years ago. There's something a bit odd about an Englishman making a big deal
                                        > about his ethnic identity. It's not as odd as an American making a big deal
                                        > about his ethnic identity, but it's odd nevertheless.

                                        Americans tend not, however, to make a big deal out of ancestors who were
                                        only 1/64th of their ancestry, unless it's something rare and special. I
                                        know people who are 1/64th Amerind, and proud of it.

                                        Tolkien didn't make a big deal out of his ancestry: these are three
                                        letters over an entire lifetime! But to the extent that he did, it was
                                        1) to correct the misapprehension, from his name, that he was German; 2)
                                        because he loved his homeland and felt a special connection with it.
                                        There's nothing wrong with that: here in California, people whose
                                        ancestors have been here for a whole hundred years feel a special sense
                                        of connectedness which they hold over those of us who've only been here
                                        for 30 or 40 years; and we, in turn, who can remember Silicon Valley
                                        before it was called that, and when it was full of orchards, have
                                        something over the dot-com weenies.

                                        > Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                                        > letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                                        > the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                                        > who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                                        > the book would be utter heresy.

                                        I agree with them!

                                        David Bratman
                                        - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                                      • Berni Phillips
                                        ... Hmmph. Surely they would agree to let Americans voice the orcs! Berni David Bratman is not responsible for the following message: (Just kidding, dear!)
                                        Message 19 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                          ----------
                                          >From: "David S. Bratman" <dbratman@...>

                                          >On Fri, 3 Mar 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

                                          >> Maybe my testiness about this comes from having a two-year argument in the
                                          >> letters column of _Amon Hen_ (the Tolkien Society quarterly newsletter) about
                                          >> the "Englishness" of _The Lord of the Rings_. There are some T. S. members
                                          >> who think that the appearance of any American voices in a movie version of
                                          >> the book would be utter heresy.
                                          >
                                          >I agree with them!

                                          Hmmph. Surely they would agree to let Americans voice the orcs!

                                          Berni
                                          David Bratman is not responsible for the following message:
                                          (Just kidding, dear!)
                                        • David S. Bratman
                                          ... What, I _am_ responsible for the following message? DB
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                            On Fri, 3 Mar 2000, Berni Phillips wrote:

                                            > David Bratman is not responsible for the following message:
                                            > (Just kidding, dear!)

                                            What, I _am_ responsible for the following message? <g>

                                            DB
                                          • Ted Sherman
                                            ... David, Your comment about the orchards brought back a flood of memories of the Santa Clara Valley when it still have more orchards than concrete. I can
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
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                                              "David S. Bratman" wrote:
                                              >
                                              >and we, in turn, who can remember Silicon Valley
                                              > before it was called that, and when it was full of orchards, have
                                              > something over the dot-com weenies.
                                              >
                                              David,

                                              Your comment about the orchards brought back a flood of memories of the
                                              Santa Clara Valley when it still have more orchards than concrete. I can
                                              remember looking down over the valley from Skyline or the Saratoga Gap
                                              and seeing blossoms--plum and apricot--from the Santa Cruz foothills to
                                              the Mt. Hamilton range.

                                              Thanks for the jolt to my memory!

                                              Ted
                                              --
                                              Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                                              Department of English, Box X041
                                              College of Liberal Arts
                                              Middle Tennessee State University
                                              Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                                              615 898-5836; FAX 615 898-5098
                                              tsherman@...
                                              tedsherman@...
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