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Anglo-Saxon Literature   By: (1824-1903)

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The Dawn of European Literature.

ANGLO SAXON LITERATURE.

BY JOHN EARLE, M.A. RECTOR OF SWANSWICK, RAWLINSON PROFESSOR OF ANGLO SAXON IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.

PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.

LONDON: SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE, NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, CHARING CROSS, W.C.; 43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C.; 26, ST. GEORGE'S PLACE, HYDE PARK CORNER S.W. BRIGHTON: 133, NORTH STREET. NEW YORK: E. & J.B. YOUNG & CO.

1884.

PREFACE.

The bulk of this little book has been a year or more in type; and, in the mean time, some important publications have appeared which it was too late for me to profit by. Among such I count the "Corpus Poeticum Boreale" by Dr. Gudbrand Vigfusson and Mr. York Powell; the "Epinal Gloss" and Alfred's "Orosius" by Mr. Sweet, for the Early English Text Society; an American edition of the "Beowulf" by Professors Harrison and Sharp; Ælfric's translation of "Alcuin upon Genesis," by Mr. MacLean. To these I must add an article in the "Anglia" on the first and last of the Riddles in the Exeter Book, by Dr. Moritz Trautmann. Another recent book is the translation of Mr. Bernhard Ten Brink's work on "Early English Literature," which comprises a description of the Anglo Saxon period. This book is not new to me, except for the English dress that Mr. Kennedy has given to it. The German original has been often in my hand, and although I am not aware of any particular debt, such as it would have been a duty and a pleasure to acknowledge on the spot, yet I have a sentiment that Mr. Ten Brink's sympathising and judicious treatment of our earliest literature has been not only agreeable to read, but also profitable for my work.

15, NORHAM ROAD, OXFORD, March 15th, 1884.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A PRELIMINARY VIEW 1

II. THE MATERIALS 28

III. THE HEATHEN PERIOD 59

IV. THE SCHOOLS OF KENT 79

V. THE ANGLIAN PERIOD 98

VI. THE PRIMARY POETRY 119

VII. THE WEST SAXON LAWS 150

VIII. THE CHRONICLES 169

IX. ALFRED'S TRANSLATIONS 186

X. ÆLFRIC 207

XI. THE SECONDARY POETRY 225

XII. THE NORMAN CONQUEST, AND AFTER THAT 243

INDEX 259

ANGLO SAXON LITERATURE.

CHAPTER I.

A PRELIMINARY VIEW.

Anglo Saxon literature is the oldest of the vernacular literatures of modern Europe; and it is a consequence of this that its relations with Latin literature have been the closest. All the vernacular literatures have been influenced by the Latin, but of Anglo Saxon literature alone can it be said that it has been subjected to no other influence. This literature was nursed by, and gradually rose out of, Latin culture; and this is true not only of those portions which were translated or otherwise borrowed from the Latin, but also in some degree even of the native elements of poetry and laws. These were not, indeed, derived from Latin sources, but it was through Latin culture that those habits and facilities were acquired which made their literary production possible.

In the Anglo Saxon period there was no other influential literature in the West except the Latin. Greek literature had long ago retired to the East... Continue reading book >>




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