Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Beowulf, the Critical Heritage: This is my Intro to the volume Beowulf: Routledge,edited by myself and the late Andreas Haarder. The price of this volume now out of print has made it unavailable to many potential readers.
Numbers in bold, in square brackets, give the original page references. If copyright allows I will later put up the selected texts which make up the main body of the work. A few years later, on 28th August Wanley wrote along presumably similar lines to the Swedish scholar Erik Benzeliusand remarked Heyworth However the letter raises several other queries.
When did Wanley come upon Beowulf? In a letter of 19th April Heyworth Wanley does not seem to have noticed or been interested in Beowulf at this point, in which he was not alone. One might wonder, from both the latter items, quite how much of Beowulf Wanley had read.
Not much at all, one might think, since he had not unravelled the distinction between Beowulf the Scylding, who disappears after line 60, and Beowulf the Geat, eventually named at line Wanley must have looked some way through the poem, though - as has remained normal and is perhaps inevitable - he continued to notice most what he most expected to find.
It is a term used by Hickes, who in his Thesaurus, chs. His enthusiasm found no response in England Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf several generations.
Not only did he expect Anglo-Saxon poetry to be rude and barbaric, he knew it was so. No English-speaking scholar made very much advance on this during the whole of the eighteenth century. It is true that Pinkerton adds, of Beowulf vol. Conybeare insee Hall But this seems to mark the limit even of British aspiration with the single exception of Sharon Turner not only through the eighteenth century but well into the nineteenth. Matters were a little better elsewhere. The Danish scholars of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are known to most Beowulfian scholars of the present day, Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf at all, only from J.
Any examination of their work causes much more respectful feelings, if only for their immense industry and range. His method may have been misguided, jumbling together works by near- contemporaries and works describing an already-fabled antiquity, but there was very little that escaped his eye.
This is even more true of Jacob Langebek Anschar written by St. Eight more massive volumes were to appear over the next century, with Suhm taking over when Langebek died, and further scholars in turn replacing him. What Langebek recognised was the mention of Scyld Scefing in line 4, which Wanley had transcribed. Langebek makes no attempt to sort out contradictions or explain editorial decisions; on the same page one finds Heremod as the father of Sceaf from William and of Sceldvea ultimately from the Parker Chronicle, AD The impression one has is that Langebek felt the most important thing was to get the material into print, so that later cross-comparison would arrive at the facts which surely lay buried: But Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf any case Beowulf had been signalled as a prospective quarry for Danish historians; English scholars, Langebek concedes  on p.
Like many academic projects, his edition and translation of Beowulf then lay uncompleted for close on a quarter of a century.
It is true that Thorkelin acquired what must remain one of the most convincing excuses-for-late-delivery of all time, in the shape of the destruction of his library by the Royal Navy during the bombardment of Copenhagen in early September Thorkelin claimed that this destroyed all his working papers though not his two transcriptsand set him back for some years.
Unlike Wanley or Langebek or Thorkelin, Turner was not a professional librarian or archivist, but a lawyer whose hobby was early medieval studies.
In any case Turner was prepared to range
Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf more widely than Suhm or Langebek, since he took a broadly British view of national sentiment. His first publication on Beowulf, as was pointed out in Stanleyoccurred in the context of Welsh poetry. Part of his argument stemmed from Beowulf: Bywhen Vol. The results are admittedly revealing, if not embarrassing, the usual fate of the pioneer.
Turner at least recognised his own inadequacies and tried repeatedly to correct them. The problem seems to be at least as much his own mistaken expectations as actual linguistic ignorance. It is true that Turner, here following Williams and Thorkelin, had the pages in the wrong order, with folios and swapped.
Turner  is also all too clearly operating on the translation method of guessing the meaning of words, when in "Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf," by their nearest modern equivalent, a method honoured by English writers all the way through to Kemble and the Grimm-Rask revolution.
As for marks of case, prepositions, etc. His image of the Northern tribes it would be a worthwhile exercise to trace how this image had already been created was one of vengeance and Vikings, and the story he attempted to trace in conformed to this pattern, see item 4.
Beowulf was not about national wars, as Wanley had said: But what was the expedition for? It must have been an act of revenge of some kind, and the only person it could be directed against, it seemed to Turner, was Hrothgar.
He, then, must have committed some crime in the first place, and the only thing it could be was the killing of Hondscio, which Turner Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf some lines out of place. Turner is clearly conscious that something is wrong here, noting p. Grendel, meanwhile, does not appear. Turner stuck to this scenario in item 5but tried to motivate the expedition against Hrothgar rather better. It has to be said that the scenario is still not clear.
Turner was obviously concerned by this stage to refute the contemptuous dismissal by Ritson of the Anglo- Saxons as ignorant, illiterate, devoid of romances and incapable of original composition and Beowulf certainly dealt with the last three points. He did not however expect sense or continuity from them, either in grammar or in narrative: Turner should not be blamed too severely.
His translations in the third edition of item 18with folio now set in its proper place by Thorkelin, are a marked improvement though like Thorkelin he still finds lines baffling.
His problems should serve to remind modern readers of two things: As long as it was assumed that mere barbarian vernaculars altered the forms of their words more or less at random, lacking the regular paradigms of Latin beaten into Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf educated European male in youth, accurate translation could not exist even as a goal. Once the underlying rules of a language have been understood, as now, there is something to be gained in noting the divergencies and irregularities so often standardised by nineteenth- and twentieth-century editors.
But assuming linguistic anarchy as a basis leads nowhere, and betrays a characteristically eighteenth-century condescension towards writers of the past though in the case of Beowulf this was to last well into modern times.
Turner can make nothing, for instance, of lines 81b The excessive attention later given to the allusions and digressions, like the pedantic stress on accurate philology, has a root in early bafflement, and in the corresponding crossword-style pleasure in finding ingenious solutions.
His half-line by half-line translating method makes his intended meaning hard to follow, though I do not find it as bad as is described by Cooley and Osborn One may sum up by saying simply this: Thorkelin relies on the work of Suhm in the s and s. This is admirable for its industry, as said above, and was for a while daunting in its precision.
Half the characters in Beowulf are there, from Skiold d.
Hugleik is there, a king of Sweden, d. It is however, like many a similarly-impressive computer print-out of the present  day, based on unreliable data late chronicle and legendary saga and unexamined assumption that all sources have equal merit.
In the dominant German nineteenth-century tradition for which see Stanley b passim it became normal to see the poem as essentially heathen, with an unnecessary and removable Christian top-coating.
To him the point is not that the poem is an unequalled guide to the lost world of early Germanic culture; rather that it enshrines an early monotheism, to be found also in Classical pagan poets and philosophers, not Christian indeed but not incompatible with Christianity. This opinion too was soon to be put aside. For this there was good cause. Thorkelin had after all received very heavy subsidies for his long stay in England, he had of course returned with much valuable material;
Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf, he did have to justify  his expenses and in this case the very long delay in publication.
Kiernan expresses himself on the subject Devotions for dating couples summary of beowulf decent reserve In Thorkelin also had the unbeatable excuse of the bombardment. Just the same, people knew his edition was coming, and they were waiting for it.
It is mentioned in Weber More ominously, in his Nordens Mytologi N. Grundtvig had written footnote to p. All the reviewers have been identified with virtual certainty by Haarder They provide a snapshot of scholarly opinionas well as starting a whole series of doubts and disputes which remain in several cases unsettled and unsettling.
For the sake of brevity, they are treated here out of chronological order; and in the excerpts in this volume the lengthy summaries which four of them offered the three Scandinavians and Taylor have been omitted. The only English reviewer, William Taylor, may be dismissed briefly, see item Turner had been closer to the meaning in both andsee items 4, 5.
He has Grendel brought magically back to life by his mother an idea which has a basis in Thorkelin, pp. The notion that Beowulf goes fishing for whales later on in the poem may have been generated by memory of the tale of Thor and the giant Hymir.
Taylor unfortunately set the low standard of scholarship which was to mark Beowulf studies in English with some indignant exceptions for the rest of the century. Bouterwek clearly and immediately distinguishes the date of the manuscript from the date of composition,  and both from the age of the material, and is struck again by the contrast between the Christian references and the Scandinavian setting.