Revising Oral Theory: Formulaic Composition in Old English and Old Icelandic Verse [NOOK Book]

Overview

Focusing on the Old English poem Beowulf, on various Old Norse rune poems, and on the Old Icelandic mythological and legendary poems of the Elder Edda, this study addresses the following questions: What does it mean to compose with formulas? Was repetition in these poems fixed, or flexible? How do formulas relate to more larger-scale poetic strategies and motifs? In what sense are such formulas a part of oral tradition?

The introductory essay attempts, for the first time, to ...

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Revising Oral Theory: Formulaic Composition in Old English and Old Icelandic Verse

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Overview

Focusing on the Old English poem Beowulf, on various Old Norse rune poems, and on the Old Icelandic mythological and legendary poems of the Elder Edda, this study addresses the following questions: What does it mean to compose with formulas? Was repetition in these poems fixed, or flexible? How do formulas relate to more larger-scale poetic strategies and motifs? In what sense are such formulas a part of oral tradition?

The introductory essay attempts, for the first time, to place oral-formulaic theory into a larger theoretical context, relating it to structuralist activities in folklore and mythology. In the subsequent three chapters, the author employs a linguistically based stylistic criticism, investigating the use of fixed and flexible language in the poetry. These analyses in turn generate a list of semantically paired, or syndetic, formulas in Beowulf, a new emendation for a defective line in the Old English Rune Poem; and the isolation of a "theme of prophecy" in Eddic verse. The fourth chapter offers the first detailed survey of oral-formulaic criticism of Eddic poetry. Throughout the book, the author attempts to negotiate a shift from an older, structuralist theory of oral-formulaic composition to a more recognizable contemporary oral theory.

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Editorial Reviews

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Addresses questions surrounding the composition of formulas, the relation of formulas to large-scale poetic strategies and motifs, and formulas as part of oral tradition, focusing on the Old English poem , on Old Norse rune poems, and on the Old Icelandic mythological and legendary poems of the Elder Edda. Employs a linguistically based stylistic criticism to investigate the use of fixed and flexible language in poetry, and attempts to negotiate a shift from an older, structuralist theory of oral-formulaic composition to a more recognizable contemporary oral theory. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Texts and Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Fixed and flexible levels in syndetic formulas 3
2 Flexible formulas, systems, and strategies in the Old English Rune Poem 35
3 Flexible formulas, systems, strategies, and themes in Old Icelandic Eddic verse 61
4 A survey of oral-formulaic criticism of Eddic poetry 85
Bibliography 111
Index 127
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