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The aim of Gold-Hall and Earth-Dragon is to re-create as fully as possible for modern readers the original force of the poetic language of Beowulf. Lee makes use of a wide, archetypal literary context for Beowulf to provide illuminating parallels and contrasts with poems and fictions from other times and places. He demonstrates how the poem's symbolic system reveals itself through the metaphorical workings of the Old English words, patterns of imagery, and more general narrative structures, and how the poem might have been experienced and interpreted by the Anglo-Saxons in the light of other Old English poems. The critical tools that Lee uses – combining certain techniques of New Criticism and close reading with postmodern theories of the self-referentiality of language and with Northrop Frye's conceptions of structure and polysemy in literature – make possible a fresh new account of Beowulf as a work that is very much alive in its poetic language, a finely wrought symbolic work of imagining, still resonant with meanings old and new.