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Language and Style in Old English Composite Homilies (Hardback)

P&S History > Medieval World > Viking & Early Medieval Europe > Viking & Early Medieval Language & Literature

Imprint: Medieval and Renaissance Texts Society
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9780866984096
Published: 31st March 2010
Casemate UK Academic


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This book provides a detailed, in-depth study of Old English composite homilies preserved in tenth- and eleventh-century manuscripts. Composite homilies, which are made up of passages drawn with little change from other Old English homiletic writings, have been the subject of source studies and manuscript studies, but little comprehensive work has been done on the linguistic aspects of the compilers’ transmissions and transformations of the works they draw upon. By examining the compilers’ language and style in eight works that utilize a variety of sources (including works by Ælfric and Wulfstan, and anonymous Vercelli homilies and Old English poems), the author shows that these composite homilies, far from being unreflective pastiches, are products of compilation, not imitation, made by individual minds with their own designs and purposes. The compilers reveal their attitudes towards their source texts in the language (including style) and substance of the homily, and the adaptations they make tell us much about their own interests and perceptions. Taken together, the eight homilies show late Old English homilists forming a network of intertextuality and are an important testament to diverse prose styles.

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