Focusing on the works of Cynewulf, the Caedmonic school, and the great Beowulf-poet, John Gardner traces the development of Anglo-Saxon Christian poetic style.
This latest contribution to a distinguished new series is a scholar-novelist-poet’s analysis of allegorical modes in a few major poems from England’s great age of allegory, the seventh century to, roughly, the eleventh.
What John Gardner is out to understand and describe is not so much the “meaning” of particular poemsthough his study inevitably deals, to some extent, with meaning and offers critical interpretationsbut how the various kinds of Anglo-Saxon allegory work, what happens when several completely different kinds of allegory are brought together in one poem (as in Beowulf), and what it is that makes the different kinds of allegory not just intellectually but emotionally effective.
Gardner asks the right questions from both the scholar’s and the novelist’s points of view, which turn out to be important for an understanding of the whole Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition.
About the Author
John Gardner is the author of several novels, including Grendel (the Beowulf story from the monster’s point of view), an epic poem Jason and Medeia, and various translations, including The Complete Works of the Gawain-Poet. He teaches medieval literature at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.