English Literature from the Old English Period Through the by J. e. Luebering

By J. e. Luebering

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Its earliest annals (beginning in the reign of Julius Caesar) are laconic, except the entry for 755, which records in detail a feud between the West Saxon king Cynewulf and the would-be usurper Cyneheard. The entries covering the Danish wars of the late 9th century are much fuller, and those running from the reign of Ethelred II to the Norman Conquest in 1066 (when The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle exists in several versions) contain many passages of excellent writing. The early 10th century is not notable for literary production, but some of the homilies in the Vercelli Book and the Blickling Manuscript (Scheide Library, Princeton University) may belong to that period.

Aelfric was an Anglo-Saxon prose writer, considered the greatest of his time. He wrote both to instruct the monks 33 7 English Literature from the Old English Period Through the Renaissance 7 An illustration showing peasants harvesting their crops adorns Aelfric’s Pentateuch, one of the seven books of the Bible that the 10th-century writer rewrote in the vernacular. British Library, London, UK/© British Library Board. All Rights Reserved/The Bridgeman Art Library and to spread the learning of the 10th-century monastic revival.

It contains the poems Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, and Christ and 47 7 English Literature from the Old English Period Through the Renaissance 7 Satan, originally attributed to Caedmon because these subjects correspond roughly to the subjects described in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History as having been rendered by Caedmon into vernacular verse. The whole, called Caedmon’s Paraphrase, was first published in 1655. The manuscript itself is also called the Caedmon Manuscript, although studies have made the attribution to Caedmon doubtful, because the poems seem to have been written at different periods and by more than one author.

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