Friday, March 30, 2007

Anglo-Saxon Aloud: Genesis

I have now posted the final lines of the Old English Genesis over at Anglo-Saxon Aloud. That means that very soon (hopefully when you read this) the entire poem, all 2936 lines of it, should be available on iTunes.

I was thinking about posting an interpretive lecture on Genesis, but that's going to have to wait a little while until some other things get cleared out of the way (though my bizarre Kalamazoo paper on Vainglory is now done). I do think I learned a lot about the poem from recording and editing and summarizing it: I've never worked on Genesis before, so I don't know if the things I've noticed are critical commonplaces (probably), but it was certainly illuminating to work on the poem in this particular way: you get a good feel for the rhythm and pace of the poetry (even though I tried to read it inflected as a narrative rather than emphasizing alliteration and lineation). Most Anglo-Saxonists focus on Genesis B, the section of the poem that includes the Fall of the Angels and was possibly an inspiration for Milton's treatment of Satan in Paradise Lost (Milton knew Francis Junius). But Genesis A has a lot of interesting stuff in it, and the way that the poet deals with some of the problems of the biblical narrative (in particular Lamech and circumcision) is probably worth some discussion, which I'll try to get to.

Exodus starts on Monday. It is worth noting that J.R.R. Tolkien thought Exodus to be closer to Beowulf in language, style and date of composition than any other poem. You can see what you think; I'll be posting Exodus from Monday April 2 until Monday April 9 (if all goes well), and Beowulf Aloud should finally be ready for sale by that time.


theswain said...

OOOO--first comment! Thanks for this! I have to say, my reading aloud of Old English (and Old Norse, Old Irish, Greek, Latin) frankly sucks--my wife thinks its because I'm tone deaf (posts sing better, I'm told) and can't hear the way its supposed to sound. Anyway, I love Genesis (A and B), and am grateful that you've read it and made it available...good for me, good for classes.....mind if I put this in the Heroic Age link list?

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