Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Old English Epic of Waldere

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Old English Epic of Waldere

Article excerpt

Jonathan B. Himes, The Old English Epic of Waldere (Newcasde upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2009). xv + 142 pp. ISBN 978-1-4438-0558-2. £34.99/ $58.99.

The Old English poem Waldere is extant in just two single-leaf fragments now in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, which together preserve only sixty lines of what must originally have been a much longer poem. Yet this text possesses an importance out of all proportion to the amount of it that survives, if only because it offers such a tantalizing glimpse of what the Old English epic tradition might once have contained beyond Beowulf. Unlike Beowulf, Waldere has analogues in a wide range of different medieval texts, including major landmarks in European literature such as the medieval Latin Waltharius, the Old Norse Liörekssaga and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. In this volume, Jonathan B. Himes presents the results of his recent examination of Copenhagen fragments under ultra-violet light (pp. 11-35); an extensive discussion of the general problems of interpretation that the damaged text presents (pp. 37-70); a new edition with facing-page translation, explanatory notes, and glossary (pp. 75-94); and two appendices, one discussing Waldere's depiction of weapons and wargear (pp. 97-117), and the other its vocabulary and versification (pp. 119-31). Himes's arguments are always admirably detailed and explicit, but they frequendy fail to convince. For example, his attempt to show that the Walde re-copyist's work is characterized by 'careless or inexperienced penmanship' (p. 11) and 'riddled with orthographic mistakes' (p. 31) seems tendentious and exaggerated, and in itself no sufficient basis for suggesting that this 'scribe's native language may not have been Anglo-Saxon' (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.