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  • The Old English Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels: Language, Author and Context eds. by Julia Fernández Cuesta and Sara Pons-Sanz
  • Greg Waite
Fernández Cuesta, Julia and Sara Pons-Sanz, eds, The Old English Gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels: Language, Author and Context ( Anglia Book Series, 51), Berlin, De Gruyter, 2016; cloth; pp. xii, 432, R.R.P. €99.95, US $140.00, £74.99; ISBN 9783110449105.

This volume contains papers from a 2012 workshop on the Lindisfarne gloss held at the University of Westminster, with the addition of others. The aim is to gather different perspectives (palaeography, glossography, history, linguistics, and philology) to understand better 'the socio-historical context and the cultural and intellectual milieu in which [the gloss] was produced' (p. 1). The Old English (OE) continuous interlinear gloss inserted into the Lindisfarne Gospels by Aldred in the later tenth century, as an act of reverence and devotion, has long attracted the attention of historical linguists and those studying the book's cultural history. It provides key evidence for the Northumbrian dialect of OE, in an era when literary production was dominated by the West Saxon standardized written dialect exemplified in the works of Ælfric, Wulfstan, and others trained in the monastic reform era.

In Part I, 'The Gloss in Context', five papers address wider cultural and historical issues. Michelle Brown further develops ideas advanced in her earlier study The Lindisfarne Gospels: Society, Spirituality and the Scribe (British Library, 2003), arguing that Aldred's gloss must be understood against a background of Anglo-Scandinavian political relations, where it was necessary to assert 'Englishness' and Christian character in the North. Jane Roberts investigates Aldred's colophon, and its evidence for the Gospels' origin at Lindisfarne, [End Page 196] revisiting her hypothesis that a vernacular poem served as a source of evidence for Aldred's claims. She also considers points of comparison and contrast between Aldred's glosses to the Gospels, and the Durham Collectar. Philip Rusche's examination of Aldred's glossing indicates that he was influenced mainly by older traditions of Psalter glossing from the ninth century, rather than new developments in the period of monastic reform. Paul Cavill, on the other hand, finds that Aldred's marginalia appear to embody a reforming spirit and a desire for his monastic community to embrace material poverty and purity of heart. Stuart Brookes presents a survey of the varieties of letter-form in the gloss. Aldred's work betrays knowledge of both Square minuscule and Carolingian letter-forms, in addition to his principal script, a somewhat old-fashioned Insular minuscule, and his practice embodies a creative response to the script variety he encountered in the Latin text.

Part II, 'The Language of the Gloss', begins with Robert McColl Millar's examination of noun phrase morphology simplification. This paper, along with some others, shows how developments found in early Middle English are already occurring in Northumbria, in contrast with southern OE dialects. Marcelle Cole's paper on present-tense verb morphology contributes to another important line of enquiry. Building on studies by Brunner, Blakeley, and others, she shows how the distribution of variant forms indicates that Aldred's work does not reflect a uniform idiolect throughout, and must have been based on earlier source materials. Luisa García García examines the use and morphological status of causative (-jan) verbs, concluding that the pace of change in inflectional morphology is not paralleled in derivational morphology. María Nieves Rodríguez Ledesma examines morphology and word order for genitive phrases, and George Walkden null subjects as evidence for syntactic variation. Julia Fernández Cuesta compares Skeat's edition with MS Cotton Nero D.iv, highlighting problems of using the print version for linguistic analysis.

Part III, 'Glossing Practice', contains an analysis of multiple glosses to present tense forms of beon by Christine Bolze, and another by Sara Pons-Sanz on the principles of ordering of double or multiple semantic glosses. Patrizia Lendinara examines words left unglossed by Aldred, arguing that informed principles are at work here, rather than gaps in his knowledge. Karen Jolly brings her expert knowledge of the Durham Collectar to bear upon Aldred's work...


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