Studies in Earlier Old English Prose

Edited by Paul E. Szarmach

Subjects: Literary History
Paperback : 9780873959483, 420 pages, October 1985
Hardcover : 9780873959476, 420 pages, October 1985

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Table of contents

Introduction by Paul E. Szarmach


I. King Alfred's Version of Augustine's Soliloquia: Some Suggestions on its Rationale and Unity
Milton McC. Gatch
II. Tone in Alfred's Version of Augustine's Soliloquies
Ruth Waterhouse
III. King Alfred's Letter as a Source on Learning in England
Jennifer Morrish
IV. The Old English Pastoral Care: the Scribal Contribution
Dorothy M. Horgan
V. The Production of the Pastoral Care: King Alfred and His Helpers
Richard W. Clement
VI. How Boethian is Alfred's Boethius?
Whitney R. Bolton


VII. The Manuscript Contexts of the Old English Laws: Tradition and Innovation
Mary P. Richards

VIII. St. Neot's, Aethelweard, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Survey
Audrey L. Meaney
IX. Syntax and Style in the Old English Oresius
Elizabeth M. Liggins

X. The Latinity of the Ninth-Century Old English Martyrologist
J. E. Cross
XI. The Latin Tradition of Martyrologies and the Old English Martyrology
Gunter Kotzor
XII. The Translation of Gregory's Dialogues and Its Revision: Textual History, Provenance, Authorship
David Yerkes
XIII. Bede Fortunate in His Translator: the Barking Nuns
Donald K. Fry
XIV. The Old English Prose Translation of Felix's Vita Sancti Guthlaci
Jane Roberts
XV. The Earlier Homily: De Parasceve
Paul E. Szarmach
Appendix. Research on Early Old English Literary Prose, 1973-82
Carl T. Berkhout



Old English prose before the late tenth century is examined in this collection of hitherto unpublished essays. Using a variety of techniques, the authors explore well-known and lesser-known texts in search of a better understanding of why, how, and by whom the manuscripts were produced.

Part I of the collection contains six studies of Alfredian prose—the Soliloquies, the Pastoral Care, and Consolation of Philosophy—all of which are translations traditionally associated with King Alfred.

Part II contains nine essays on various prose works outside of the Alfredian milieu, including the Old English Dialogues, the Old English Bede, the Chronicle and Laws, and various religious works. The authors emphasize the importance of a fresh look at Latin backgrounds and sources and the need to return to manuscript evidence for new insights. As a group, they argue for sympathetic contextual analysis, urging scholars in the field to reexamine the prose of the earlier Old English period to find cultural and literary value and significance.

A bibliographical appendix supplements the Greenfield-Robinson bibliography for the period ending in 1982.

The contributions in this volume complement the eleven essays found in The Old English Homily and Its Background, edited by Paul E. Szarmach and Bernard F. Huppe, also published by SUNY Press.

Paul E. Szarmach directs the center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton.