Beowulf: The Poem And Its Tradition


Beowulf: The Poem And Its Tradition
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This book develops a view of the first great work of English literature as a poem whose methods are grounded in an oral tradition, whose style is formal and nonrepresentational, and whose values reflect those of the Anglo-Saxon aristocrats who patronized songs of this kind. In Part I, I discuss the poem’s oral, traditional background, chiefly in a chapter on the art of the early Germanic singers in Part II, its formal artistry and in Part III, its aristocratic and community-oriented values. Looking at Beowulf this way can be likened to three ways of looking at a blackbird: in its landscape, of wide horizons under a lens, with attention to its fine anatomy and as a living thing, with a potential for song, and unlike anything else.

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