Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This study has been long in the making, and the expressions of encouragement that I have received over the years have been instrumental to its continued progress. I thank the many friends and colleagues who have read or heard parts of my work (in Kalamazoo, London, Cambridge [MA], DeKalb, Saskatoon, Oxford [MS], and Urbana) ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-18

The proverb is one of the most reliable currencies in medieval intellectual culture. In times and places where the constructs of orality still exert a strong influence (as in Anglo-Saxon England or medieval Iceland), the proverb serves to preserve and transmit cultural wisdom in an authoritative, memorable form. ...

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Chapter 2. Alliterative Proverbs in Time

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pp. 19-61

As I discussed in chapter 1, an important issue in the literary history of medieval England is the level of continuity—or lack thereof—informing the composition of alliterative poetry. The same question can be asked of alliterative proverbs, but because these represent a simpler form, the answer should be correspondingly clearer. ...

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Chapter 3. Alliterative Proverbs in Didactic Texts

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pp. 62-97

In any culture, the proverb derives much of its meaning from the way it interacts with its context. This interaction is perhaps most evident in the case of metaphorical proverbs, which are interpreted as metaphors based largely on the content surrounding them. For example, the admonition to “Look before you leap” is intended quite literally when delivered as part of a bungee-jumping lesson, ...

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Chapter 4. Alliterative Proverbs in Romance, Lyric, and Drama

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pp. 98-132

The genres I addressed in chapter 3 existed in some form during both the Old English and Middle English periods. Proverb collections, gnomic poems, religious instructions, and sermons all underwent changes through the centuries, but all were available as proverb vectors from the beginnings of medieval English literacy through the end of the Middle Ages. ...

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Chapter 5. Conclusion: Summary and Suggestions

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pp. 133-138

In order to understand the literary and linguistic environment that influenced medieval writers, it is important to examine their sources and the works of their contemporaries, as we often do. However, other, less literary, uses of language that contribute to the relevant language ecology should also be considered: these might include medium-length forms such as personal letters, ...

Bibliography

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pp. 139-156

Index

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pp. 157-164

Back Cover

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