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An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (1995)

by Bruce Mitchell

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144None192,084 (3.92)1
In the six centuries before the Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Saxonsset their mark on England: the origins of much that is distinctivein modern English culture may be found in the period, most notablythe English language itself. This outstanding book is anintroduction to Old English language and literature set within thecontext of Anglo-Saxon history and society -so arranged that theone constantly illuminates the other. Parts I, II, and V aim to provide the reader with anunderstanding of, and in particular the ability to read, OldEnglish. Drawing on over four decades of teaching experience, theauthor proceeds in clear, manageable steps. He stresses the'Englishness' of Old English, guides the reader through possibledifficulties, and illustrates each point with examples. Part III presents a wide-ranging account of Anglo-Saxon England.A description of the literature is followed by a brief history ofthe period, made vivid through a series of extracts from theAnglo-Saxon Chronicle. The author draws on the latestarchaeological and historical research to describe arts, crafts,and occupations, from weapons, coins, textiles, and jewellery toship-building, architecture, and sculpture. In his account of town and country life, of warriors, farmers,and entertainers, Bruce Mitchell shows the impact of Christianityon a heroic society, in which both men and women played importantroles. This impact created a tension that is frequently apparent ina representative selection of fifty-one prose and verse textsprovided in Part IV. Each of the texts is introduced and placed incontext, and footnote annotations explain points of difficulty. The book is illustrated with maps, line drawings, andphotographs. It has a guide to further reading and full indexes,and concludes with a glossary tailored to meet the needs of thoseencountering Old English for the first time. The author's aim is toallow the reader both to understand Anglo-Saxon society and toexperience the richness of its literature and culture. He will befound to have succeeded.… (more)
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Epigraph
Dedication
For
MOLLIE
who has shared in all my work

οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἂρειον
ἢ ὄθ ὁμοφρονέοντε νοὴμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή.
Homer, Odyssey 6.182
There is no better state than this —
A man and woman sharing like pursuits
Together keeping house.
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What is Old English?
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In the six centuries before the Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Saxonsset their mark on England: the origins of much that is distinctivein modern English culture may be found in the period, most notablythe English language itself. This outstanding book is anintroduction to Old English language and literature set within thecontext of Anglo-Saxon history and society -so arranged that theone constantly illuminates the other. Parts I, II, and V aim to provide the reader with anunderstanding of, and in particular the ability to read, OldEnglish. Drawing on over four decades of teaching experience, theauthor proceeds in clear, manageable steps. He stresses the'Englishness' of Old English, guides the reader through possibledifficulties, and illustrates each point with examples. Part III presents a wide-ranging account of Anglo-Saxon England.A description of the literature is followed by a brief history ofthe period, made vivid through a series of extracts from theAnglo-Saxon Chronicle. The author draws on the latestarchaeological and historical research to describe arts, crafts,and occupations, from weapons, coins, textiles, and jewellery toship-building, architecture, and sculpture. In his account of town and country life, of warriors, farmers,and entertainers, Bruce Mitchell shows the impact of Christianityon a heroic society, in which both men and women played importantroles. This impact created a tension that is frequently apparent ina representative selection of fifty-one prose and verse textsprovided in Part IV. Each of the texts is introduced and placed incontext, and footnote annotations explain points of difficulty. The book is illustrated with maps, line drawings, andphotographs. It has a guide to further reading and full indexes,and concludes with a glossary tailored to meet the needs of thoseencountering Old English for the first time. The author's aim is toallow the reader both to understand Anglo-Saxon society and toexperience the richness of its literature and culture. He will befound to have succeeded.

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