Academic journal article Arthuriana

Lazamon's 'Brut' between Old English Heroic Poetry and Middle English Romance: A Study of the Lexical Fields 'Hero,' 'Warrior' and 'Knight.'

Academic journal article Arthuriana

Lazamon's 'Brut' between Old English Heroic Poetry and Middle English Romance: A Study of the Lexical Fields 'Hero,' 'Warrior' and 'Knight.'

Article excerpt

CHRISTINE ELSWEILER, Laæ amon's 'Brut' between Old English Heroic Poetry and Middle English Romance: A Study of the Lexical Fields 'Hero,' 'Warrior' and 'Knight.' Münchener Universitätsschriften. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Englischen Philologie. Bd. 35. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, 2011. Pp. xx+470. isbn: 978-3-631-59669-2. $96.95.

The relationship of Laæ amon's Brut to the English literary tradition, in terms of style as well as language, has defined much of the research undertaken on the two versions extant, British Library Cotton MSS Caligula A. ix and Otho C. xiii. Christine Elsweiler's study, undertaken for her doctoral thesis, takes the debate in an important direction as she investigates with methodological rigor the lexical fields of warrior and knight. She scrutinizes claims that Otho is a modernization of an otherwise archaistic text represented by Caligula, approaching the two texts separately before proceeding with a comparison of each set of findings. Her choice of lexical fields is pertinent, linking as they do elements common to Old English heroic poetry and Middle English romance: the deeds of armed men. By limiting investigation to these closely related lexical fields, she is able to explore in depth lexical choices and their interpretative implications in the two extant versions. The data relating to the lexical fields under discussion are detailed in two core sections of her book, the first exploring them in relation to the Old English heroic tradition and the second in relation to Middle English romance. A number of tables, making it possible to view her data at a glance, and the index of lexemes at the end of the book are indispensable and will allow this study to remain an important reference resource.

Elsweiler investigates the relationship of the two texts to Old English in three stages. In the first she categorizes the lexemes of Laæ amon's Brut into Old English poetic terms, terms unique to Laæ amon in Middle English and terms remaining current in the Middle English period. Her discussions of the semantic force of some words are particularly insightful-lauerd in Caligula, for example, transmits generally the sense of a ruler or a king, at times giving expression to the theme of loyalty between lord and retainer associated with the term hlaford in Old English heroic poetry (ironically in the case of Modred and emphatically in the case of Gawain), a sense not sustained consistently in Otho. …

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