Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: New Beowulf

Expand Messages
  • 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 1 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
      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 2 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
        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 3 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
          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 4 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
            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 5 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
              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 6 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
                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 7 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
                  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 8 of 27 , Feb 29, 2000
                    "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 9 of 27 , Mar 1, 2000
                      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 10 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                        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 11 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                          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 12 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                            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 13 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                              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 14 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                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
                                >
                                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                > DON'T HATE YOUR RATE!
                                > Get a NextCard Visa, in 30 seconds! Get rates as low as
                                > 0.0% Intro or 9.9% Fixed APR and no hidden fees.
                                > Apply NOW!
                                > http://click.egroups.com/1/2120/3/_/505012/_/952097429/
                                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                >
                                > 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 15 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                  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 16 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                    ----------
                                    >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 17 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                      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 18 of 27 , Mar 3, 2000
                                        "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@...
                                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.