Store of Common Sense: Gnomic Theme and Style in Old Icelandic and Old English Wisdom Poetry (Oxford English Monographs Series)

Store of Common Sense: Gnomic Theme and Style in Old Icelandic and Old English Wisdom Poetry (Oxford English Monographs Series)

by Carolyne Larrington, Larrington
     
 

A Store of Common Sense is the first comparative study in English of Old Icelandic and Old English wisdom poetry. It examines problems of form, unity, and coherence, and how the genre responds to social change, both reflecting and shaping the thinking of the communities which originate it. Carolyne Larrington analyses the differences between the pagan wisdom of Norse,… See more details below

Overview

A Store of Common Sense is the first comparative study in English of Old Icelandic and Old English wisdom poetry. It examines problems of form, unity, and coherence, and how the genre responds to social change, both reflecting and shaping the thinking of the communities which originate it. Carolyne Larrington analyses the differences between the pagan wisdom of Norse, ranging through everyday practical advice, rune magic, and spells, and the Christian, socially oriented ideals of Old English wisdom poetry, strongly rooted in Christian concepts of 'natural' order and hierarchy in God's Creation. Close reading in primary texts, both runic and magical, lays bare the skilful, structural integration of pragmatic, social wisdom with other kinds of knowledge. The book explores the possibility of Christian influence on Norse texts and demonstrates the impact of Christian learning on the ancient pagan genre. The existence of a gnomic 'key' in Norse and English narrative verse is also shown. Far from being platitudinous moralizing, the wisdom poems of the two literatures reveal themselves as comic, ironic, dramatic, and grandiose by turns, exploring a gamut of themes unequal led in any other genre of the period.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198119821
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Series:
Oxford English Monographs Series
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 8.81(h) x 0.82(d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Introduction1
1Havamal15
1.2Some Working Assumptions19
1.3An Account of the Text: The Gnomic Poem, 1-10320
1.4Gunnloth and the Mead of Poetry, 104-11048
1.5Loddfafnismal50
1.6Runatal59
1.7Ljothatal62
2Wisdom in the Education of the Hero: The Poems of Sigurdr's Youth73
2.2Prose Traditions74
2.3Gripisspa75
2.4Reginsmal76
2.5Fafnismal78
2.6Sigrdrifumal86
3Christian Wisdom Poetry: Hugsvinnsmal97
3.1Havamal, Hugsvinnsmal, and Disticha Catonis: A Problem of Relationships97
3.2Hugsvinnsmal: The Adaptation of Pagan Material for Christian Education108
4Old English Wisdom Poetry: Its Range and Themes120
4.1The Exeter Maxims120
4.2The Cotton Maxims130
4.3The Rune Poem134
4.4Fortunes of Men139
4.5Precepts143
4.6Solomon and Saturn II148
5Gnomic Poetry and the Natural World: Nature as an Aesthetic161
6Gnomes in Elegy174
6.1Old Norse Elegy174
6.2Old English Elegy184
7Gnomes in Narrative Verse: Old English and Old Norse200
7.1The Heroic: Fortitudo201
7.2The Heroic: Sapientia209
7.3The Narrative Voice212
Conclusion220
Bibliography225
Index239

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