J.S.Ryan,Parergon, 14, 2 , pp.223-224.
This essay at probing the unknowable is less a piece of special pleading than a shrewd and fascinating attempt to place the composition of Beowulf in an eighth-century East Anglian context. This task is advanced through a most careful survey of available evidence - palaeographical, genealogical, archaeological and literary/historical - as well as using details from hagiography and folklore. That the book has been reprinted within a year of its original issue is a tribute to its readability, as well as to the passionate excitement of the modern writer as he brings to life an older culture in its relatively changeless landscape, placing shrewdly his genealogical tables and archaeological reconstructions from Sutton Hoo and elsewhere against his own bold textů.
All in all, the text is a well-balanced and informed study, possessed of considerable freshness, observance of the former cultural landscape, and an engagement with the actual text that recalls the passionate scholarship of more than a century ago.
Return to book page