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A Feast of Creatures

Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Songs

Edited and Translated by Craig Williamson

Publication Year: 2011

In A Feast of Creatures, Craig Williamson recasts nearly one hundred Old English riddles of the Exeter Book into a modern verse mode that yokes the cadences of Aelfric with the sprung rhythm of Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Like the early English riddlers before him, Williamson gives voice to the nightingale, plow, ox, phallic onion, and storm-wind. In lean and taut language he offers us mead disguised as a mighty wrestler, the sword as a celibate thane, the silver wine-cup as a seductress, the horn transformed from head-warrior to ink-belly or battle-singer. In his notes and commentary he gives us possible and probable solutions, sources, and analogues, a shrewd sense of literary play, and traces the literary and cultural contexts in which each riddle may be viewed. In his introduction, Williamson traces for us the history of riddles and riddle scholarship.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-

Part One

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Introduction

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pp. 3-52

The Old English riddles are a metaphoric and metamorphic celebration of life in the eye of the Anglo-Saxon. Metaphoric because each riddlic creature takes on the guise of another: the nightingale is an evening poet, mead is a wrestler, the sword a celibate thane, the silver wine-cup a seductress. ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 53-56

Part Two

The Riddles

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pp. 59-154

Part Three

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Notes and Commentary

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pp. 157-220

The Commentary contains a discussion of individual riddles, their probable and possible solutions, their sources and analogues if any, their literary play, and the critical and cultural contexts in which they may usefully be viewed. In sketching both medieval and postmedieval literary treatments of riddle ...

Bibliography for Notes and Commentary

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pp. 221-224

Index of Solutions

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pp. 225-230

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 231-

Research on portions of the book was funded by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Swarthmore College. Thanks go to my friends at Swarthmore and elsewhere who read portions of the book and offered suggestions--Charles Balestri, Mark Booth, John Hinchey, Marie Nelson ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780812204452
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812211290

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011