The first and one of the finest Latin poets of Anglo-Saxon England, the seventh-century bishop Saint Aldhelm can justly be called “Britain's first man of letters.” Among his many influential poetic texts were the hundred riddles that made up hisAenigmata. In Saint Aldhelm's Riddles, A.M. Juster offers the first verse translation of this text in almost a century, capturing the wit, warmth, and wonder of the first English riddle collection. One of today's finest formalist poets, A.M. Juster brings the same exquisite care to this volume as to his translations of Horace (“The best edition available of theSatires in English” –Choice), Tibullus (“An excellent new translation” –The Guardian), and Petrarch. Juster's translation is complemented by a newly edited version of the Latin text and by the first scholarly commentary on theAenigmata, the result of exhaustive interdisciplinary research into the text's historical, literary, and philological context.Saint Aldhelm's Riddles will be essential for scholars and a treasure for lovers of Tolkien,Beowulf, and Harry Potter.
In this book, Curtis Gruenler proposes that the concept of the enigmatic, latent in a wide range of medieval thinking about literature, can help us better understand in medieval terms much of the era’s most enduring literature, from the riddles of the Anglo-Saxon bishop Aldhelm to the great vernacular works of Dante, Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, and, above all, Langland’s Piers Plowman. Riddles, rhetoric, and theology—the three fields of meaning of aenigma in medieval Latin—map a way of thinking about reading and writing obscure literature that was widely shared across the Middle Ages. The poetics of enigma links inquiry about language by theologians with theologically ambitious literature. Each sense of enigma brings out an aspect of this poetics. The playfulness of riddling, both oral and literate, was joined to a Christian vision of literature by Aldhelm and the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book. Defined in rhetoric as an obscure allegory, enigma was condemned by classical authorities but resurrected under the influence of Augustine as an aid to contemplation. Its theological significance follows from a favorite biblical verse among medieval theologians, “We see now through a mirror in an enigma, then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12). Along with other examples of the poetics of enigma, Piers Plowman can be seen as a culmination of centuries of reflection on the importance of obscure language for knowing and participating in endless mysteries of divinity and humanity and a bridge to the importance of the enigmatic in modern literature. This book will be especially useful for scholars and undergraduate students interested in medieval European literature, literary theory, and contemplative theology.
This study examines Exeter riddles, Anglo-Saxon biblical poems (Exodus, Andreas, Judith) and Beowulf in order to uncover the poetics of spolia, an imaginative use of recycled fictional artefacts to create sites of metatextual reflection. Old English poetry famously lacks an explicit ars poetica. This book argues that attention to particularly charged moments within texts especially those concerned with translation, transformation and the layering of various pasts yields a previously unrecognised means for theorising Anglo-Saxon poetic creativity. Borrowed objects and the art of poetry works at the intersections of materiality and poetics, balancing insights from thing theory and related approaches with close readings of passages from Old English texts.
Essays on Medieval English Language and Literature
Author: Thomas Honegger
Publisher: Peter Lang
This volume comprises selected papers of SEM IV & V (Studientag Englisches Mittelalter), held at Potsdam in 2002 & 2003, and provides a representative cross-section of topics in the field of English medieval studies in Germany and Switzerland. The spectrum ranges from cultural studies centring around the history of ideas, questions of gender and the reception of the Middle Ages, to philological and linguistic approaches focussing on manuscript studies, semantics and (textual) communication.