Sede Amministrativa: Università degli Studi di Padova. Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave - PDF

Sede Amministrativa: Università degli Studi di Padova Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave SCUOLA DI DOTTORATO DI RICERCA IN: SCIENZE LINGUISTICHE, FILOLOGICHE E LETTERARIE INDIRIZZO:

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Sede Amministrativa: Università degli Studi di Padova Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave SCUOLA DI DOTTORATO DI RICERCA IN: SCIENZE LINGUISTICHE, FILOLOGICHE E LETTERARIE INDIRIZZO: LINGUISTICA, FILOLOGIA E LETTERATURE ANGLO-GERMANICHE CICLO: XXIV FEMALE ELEGIAC CHARACTERS IN THE EXETER BOOK. A CRITICAL EDITION, WITH A CRITICAL HISTORY AND A VARIORUM COMMENTARY OF WULF AND EADWACER,, THE WIFE S LAMENT AND THE HUSBAND S MESSAGE Direttore della Scuola: Prof.ssa Rosanna Benacchio Coordinatore d indirizzo: Prof.ssa Annalisa Oboe Supervisore: Prof. Giuseppee Brunetti Dottoranda: Elisa Giannaa Pastorello CONTENTS ABBREVIATIONS p. 3 PART ONE. THE MANUSCRIPT AND THE POEMS 1. INTRODUCTION p The Manuscript p The Poems p THE CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE POEMS p Wulf and Eadwacer The First Riddle theory p The Dramatic Monologue theory p Old Norse parallels p The Exeter Wen-Charm p The ambiguity of Wulf and Eadwacer p Riddle-like features in Wulf and Eadwacer p Editing Wulf and Eadwacer p The Wife s Lament The exile s lament p The wife s lament p Old Germanic and Norse parallels p Celtic connections p Christian allegories p The speaker as a living dead p The wife s abode p. 94 1 2.2.8 The ambiguity of The Wife s Lament l. 34b p The problem of structure p Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife s Lament as Frauenlieder p The Husband s Message 2.4.1The unity of the poem and its connection with the riddles p Christian allegory p The speaker s identity p The runic passage p Feminist readings of the poems p REMARKS ON THE CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE POEMS p. 175 BIBLIOGRAPHY p. 183 PART TWO. CRITICAL EDITION AND VARIORUM COMMENTARY 1. CRITICAL EDITION p. 201 Wulf and Eadwacer p. 201 The Wife s Lament p. 203 The Husband s Message p VARIORUM COMMENTARY p. 211 Wulf and Eadwacer p. 211 The Wife s Lament p. 221 The Husband s Message p ABBREVIATIONS WE: Wulf and Eadwacer WL: The Wife s Lament HM: The Husband s Message OE: Old English ME: Middle English MnE: Modern English 3 4 PART ONE. THE MANUSCRIPT AND THE POEMS 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 THE MANUSCRIPT The three poems edited in this thesis have been handed down to us in a single manuscript, Exeter Cathedral Library MS. 3501, known as the Exeter Book or Codex Exoniensis. It is one of the four extant poetic codices in Old English, which were all written between the last forty years of the tenth and the first twenty years of the eleventh century, although the material they contain could be earlier. The dating of Old English poetry is a controversial issue, since the language of poetry, rich in formulas, poetic words and compounds, and apax legomenon, is crystallised at least so some extent. However, among the many uncertainties surrounding the Exeter Book and its texts, the approximate date when the manuscript was copied can be established between 965 and 975 thanks to codicological and palaeographical evidence. The codex is written in square minuscule, a script that belongs to the second phase of the Anglo- Saxon minuscule and that appeared from circa 920, lasting until the beginning of the eleventh century, when it was replaced by the round phase under the influence of the Caroline minuscule the latter being the product of the simplification of script which spread from Benedictine monasteries from circa 950, and which was used just for writing in Latin up to the turn of the century. Square minuscule is the most formal type of Anglo-Saxon minuscule, and the exemplar in the Exeter Book is particularly elegant, being embellished by decorative hairline strokes 1. The codex has been identified with an entry in a donation list left to Exeter Cathedral by Leofric, the bishop who moved the see from Crediton to Exeter in 1050, and who left to the cathedral books and other gifts at his death in The above-mentioned list is found in folios 1 Information on Anglo-Saxon minuscule script comes from J. Roberts, Guide to Scripts used in English Writings up to 1500, London: The British Library, 2008, pp , 60. 5 1-7 of the manuscript, together with some legal documents; in the introduction to the facsimile edition of the MS., Förster 2 argued that these folios belonged to Cambridge University Library MS. Ii.ii.11, a gospel book, and his hypothesis was proved correct by Malmborg s discovery of a piece of parchment missing from fol. 5 of the Exeter Book and still preserved in the abovementioned Cambridge MS. 3 The entry usually connected to the Exeter Book is the following: i mycel englisc boc be gehwilcum þingum on leoðwisan geworht, meaning one great English book on various things wrought in verse. In other words, it is an anthology of Old English verse an anthology in the true sense of the word, as it contains specimens of the most diverse poetic genres: Christological, hagiographic, allegorical, elegiac, heroic, penitential, enigmatic and wisdom poetry. The different types are not grouped together: actually, the poems with religious themes are scattered throughout the MS., and so are the elegies, and the riddles. This peculiar arrangement has originated much debate on the nature of the Exeter Book and on the way in which it was composed. One question concerns the possible sources, that is the codex or codices where the anthologist or the scribe found the different texts. The beginning of each poem is marked by an initial capital which is much larger than the other letters; the end of a text is indicated by a space which usually corresponds to one or two lines, and by particular punctuation marks. Krapp and Dobbie 4 point out that most of the poems are divided into sections similar to those found in the other Old English poetical MSS., but, unlike the poems of the Beowulf MS. and the Junius MS., the sections are not numbered The scribal divisions in the MS. have been interpreted in contrasting ways: since they sometimes seem to mark the beginning and ending of distinct poems where there are really only separate sections of the same 2 R.W. Chambers, M. Förster and R. Flower (eds.), The Exeter Book of Old English Poetry, London: Percy Lund, Förster s hypothesis is on pp This information is reported in G.P. Krapp and E.V.K. Dobbie (eds.), The Exeter Book, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, III, New York: Columbia University Press, 1936, pp. x-xi. 4 G.P. Krapp and E.V.K. Dobbie (eds.), The Exeter Book, cit., pp. xvi-xvii. 6 text, some scholar take them as an indication that the MS. was copied by a scribe who not always had a clear idea of what he was copying. Others point out that the divisions might have already been present in the exemplars, and that, therefore, at least some of them might be authorial. After carefully studying the codex and the criticism on it, and after comparing the MS. with the other Old English poetical MSS., Bernard J. Muir, 5 the latest editor of the whole Exeter Book, argues that the sections were copied exactly as they were in the exemplars. 6 He also believes that there is an order in the book, although it is not so evident to modern readers. For instance, the first eight poems convey the ideal of Christian life from various viewpoints: the life of Christ, which is the paradigm for every Christian; the lives of two saints; the presence of the same ideals in the Old Testament; life after death, which awaits all those who follow God s commandments. He finds another example of deliberate juxtaposition of texts towards the end of the MS., in a series of poems dealing with penitential themes, which he considers related to the Easter liturgy. The case of Riddle 60 and The Husband s Message, which will be discussed in chapter 2.4.1, is taken by Muir as evidence that the compiler put together texts having some kind of thematic relationship, rather than as an indication that the scribe mistook the elegy for three riddles the latter being the contention of several scholars. The MS. has 131 folios, but the first leaf was not numbered in the latest foliation; therefore, the numbering goes from 1 to 130. It measures circa 320 by 220 millimetres, and the written area on the folios measures circa 240 by 160 millimetres. It is composed of seventeen gatherings, of which eight are complete, being made of eight folios, while the remaining nine gatherings are made of five or seven folios; the presence of gaps in some of the texts indicates 5 B.J. Muir, The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000, pp Muir has found correspondences between the sectional division on fol. 54v., in The Canticles of the Three Youths, and the version of the poem in the Junius MS., and between the sectional divisions in Soul and Body II (Exeter Book) and Soul and Body I in the Vercelli Book. 7 the loss of folios in at least some of the gatherings. 7 Some of the folios were already damaged by stains when they were bound in the codex, as proved by the fact that words are written around the stained parts, but not underneath. There has been a severe damage to the last fourteen folios, which has been caused by a burn; some of the text has been lost as a consequence, especially from fol. 126 to fol. 130, where the damage is worse. The Husband s Message is written on fols. 123r.-123v., and the holes in these pages make it impossible to reconstruct some parts of the text. The codex is a vellum and it is written in one hand; Flower argues that the script is too varied to be the product of one scribe, 8 but Krapp and Dobbie highlight the presence of variations in the quality of the folios, and the use of different pens, and they consider these the reasons for the small scribal variations that can be observed in the MS. 9 Although it contains poetry, it is written in continuous lines from the top to the bottom of the pages, so that the verses have to be reconstructed according to the rules of Old English metre. The first mention of the Exeter Book in modern times is in Wanley s catalogue. 10 The editio princeps was made in 1842 by Benjamin Thorpe, who transcribed all the poems with facing translation except in the case of Wulf and Eadwacer, of which the editor was not able to understand even how the verses were to be reconstructed. The first facsimile edition was made in 1831 by Robert Chambers, 11 and the latest is Muir s digital facsimile edition of A complete description of the gatherings, the folios and the missing material can be found in G.P. Krapp and E.V.K. Dobbie (eds.), The Exeter Book, cit., pp. xi-xiii. 8 R.W. Chambers, M. Förster and R. Flower (eds.), The Exeter Book of Old English Poetry, cit., p G.P. Krapp and E.V.K. Dobbie (eds.), The Exeter Book, cit., p. xiii. 10 H. Wanley, Antiquae literaturae Septentrionalis Liber Alter. Seu Humphredi Wanleii Librorum Vett. Septentrionalium, qui in Angliae Bibliothecis extant, nec non multo rum Vett. Codd. Septentrionalium alibi extantium Catalogus Historico-Criticus, cum totius Thesauri linguarum Septentrionalium sex Indicibus, Oxford, 1705, pp London, British Museum, Additional MS Robert Chambers made this transcript of the Exeter Book at the British Museum in 2. THE POEMS The poems edited in this thesis are written on the last thirty folios of the Exeter Book, among the Riddles, penitential and homiletic poems, and two other elegies. Wulf and Eadwacer is written on fols. 100v.-101r., it is preceded by Deor, an Anglo-Saxon scop s lament on the loss of his privileged status, containing references to heroic figures of Old Norse and Old Germanic literature; and it is followed by the first group of Riddles, namely number 1 to number 59 for this reason, and for its enigmatic quality, WE has been considered, and therefore edited, as the first riddle by a number of scholars. This issue is discusses in chapter The First Riddle Theory. The Wife s Lament is written on fols. 115r.-115v.; it is preceded by the first group of Riddles, and followed by ten poems, eight dealing with penitential and homiletic themes, and the last two being riddles namely, Judgement Day I, Resignation A and B, The Descent into Hell, Almsgiving, Pharaoh, The Lord s Prayer I, Homiletic Fragment II, Riddle 30b and Riddle 60. The Husband s Message immediately follows Riddle 60 on fols. 123r.-123v.; it is followed by The Ruin, a peculiar poem, usually considered an elegy, describing the desolation of a ruined Roman city. Following The Ruin, the last group of Riddles, number 61 to number 94, closes the MS. The fact that Riddle 60 immediately precedes HM, the fact that the poem itself is one of those that contain sectional divisions and the theme it deals with have caused it to be considered and edited as three separate riddles, or as a riddle and a poem by various scholars. This problem is examined in chapter The Unity of the Poem and its Connection with the Riddles. I have described the poems as elegies, but the definition is really controversial, because these poems, as well as the others categorised under this label, have not much in common with the classical elegies. Scholars have adopted this term to indicate them because they are laments 9 of various kinds; their themes are the loss of social status, exile, the consequent separation from loved ones who can be friends or lovers, the contrast between former happiness and present misery, the decadence of the world and the acknowledgment that all earthly joys are doomed to finish, the desolated landscape that mirrors the speakers feelings. WE, WL and HM feature a particular type of longing, that is love-longing; another element they have in common is their having women as protagonists: they are the speakers in the two former cases, and a silent listener and recipient of a love message in the latter. The presence of female characters in a prominent role in the poems in question has been the first reason for deciding to study and edit them together. What initially prompted me towards these texts was the wish to determine what exactly they have in common, both thematically and stylistically. To achieve this aim, an examination of the critical contributions on the poem was necessary, as so many theories on their nature, possible sources and literary connections have been published since the editio princeps appeared. However, the study of the criticism on WE, WL and HM has disclosed a more interesting field of analysis: the critical history of the poems itself. One thing is certain about these texts: no known manuscript contains other copies of them. This means that their controversial readings cannot be compared to anything else, and that the gaps in the text of HM cannot be filled by comparison; the only thing that guides editors in reconstructing the texts and their meanings is conjecture. The problem is that some scholars have been carried away with conjecture, and have manipulated the texts in order to make them agree with their views. In fact, this is the danger when approaching these poems: one finds in them elements that remind one of other literary works, and so one is tempted to follow the lead until a connection is established even when said connection requires to strain the text. The chapters in the first part of this thesis review the main currents of interpretation of WE, WL and HM with the aim to show that if, on the one hand, all the 10 possible readings of the poems seem convincing when taken one by one, on the other hand many of those readings are contrasting, sometimes to the extent that choosing one requires rejecting another completely. By this analysis I hope to demonstrate that forcing an interpretation upon one of these texts by editing them heavily or by straining the sense of words and phrases does not ultimately add to their meaning, because all the readings suggested so far can be proved to be wrong by the other readings which means that no reading of words, lines or the general theme of the poems can be proved to be the right one beyond doubt. Chapter 2 of Part One of this thesis contains the analysis of the main streams of interpretation, and chapter 3 draws some conclusions about the critical history of the poems. Part Two consists of a critical edition of WE, WL and HM that accounts for all the readings proposed by previous editors; this type of edition has been chosen in order to highlight the amount of conjectural emendation the poems have undergone, and also to provide the most objective version of the texts: if my edition shows the way I see them, the apparatus I have devised accounts for all the other manners in which it is possible to read them something that other editions lack, with the result that the reader s understanding of the poems is biased until he or she undertakes the task to analyse the numerous editions and critical discussions that have appeared up to now. 11 12 2. THE CRITICAL HISTORY OF THE POEMS 2.1 WULF AND EADWACER THE FIRST RIDDLE THEORY The first critic who proposed an interpretation of WE was Heinrich Leo (1857). In his opinion, the poem would be a riddle which hides the name of its author, Cynewulf, in a charade. The syllables composing the above-mentioned name are referred to throughout the text by means of synonyms, and the poem is a wordplay challenging the reader to see beyond the literal meaning. The play starts in ll. 1-2, where leodum stands for limbs and indicates the parts composing the name Cynewulf: the lines in question say that the limbs / syllables will have different meanings if they are taken individually and if they are put together. The different meanings are found in the subsequent sections of the poem. Ll. 3a-7b which Leo prints as a stanza plays on the image of brave men (wælreowe the same as cêne) fighting a wolf (wulf): when the hunters meet the prey, they will come together on another level of meaning, when cêne meets wulf the result is Cênewulf, a possible form of the famous Anglo-Saxon poet s name. Ll. 8-15b are based on the same type of wordplay, although the image is different: two lovers, a queen (OE cven, coen) and a man called Wulf, have been separated, and the lady longs to be reunited to her beloved. Finally, ll play on another possible variant of the syllable cyn,: the wolf (wulf) is taking away to the woods (cên, wood ) the queen and her lover s offspring, that is Eadwacer a reference to the letter e, which must be added to cên in order to obtain the name Cynewulf. The problem with Leo s interpretation is that it only explains single words, and then provides a translation of whole groups of lines based on those few words, without examining each word and line carefully. 13 Frederick Tupper revisits Leo s theory concluding that WE is actually a riddle, but based on a combination of charade and acrostic (1910, pp ). The charade would be present in the form of synonyms of the word cyn and mentions of the noun wulf. For instance, leodum (1a) can be substituted with cyn, that is kin, but also the beginning of the Anglo- Saxon poet s name; hy (2a, 7a) is referred to leod, that is cyn again, while hyne (2b, 7b) is a reference to wulf. The acrostic would be spread throughout the poem in the form of synonyms of the runic letters composing the name Cynwulf. For example, lac (1b) has the same meaning as feoh, which is the name of the rune f ; þreat (2b, 7b) is the same as nyd, the name of the rune n ; the sequence of letters as it stands in the text is fnlcywu, but they can be anagrammed into the form Cynwulf. Tupper s purpose is to fill in what he considers the gaps in Leo s theory, namely the lack of a search for sources and analogues of this riddle, a background against which WE should be read. Tupper points out that such rhetoric devices as the acrostic and the charade were known to and used by other Anglo-Saxon poets, like Aldhelm, Tatwine, Boniface, Æthelwald and Æthelwulf. He also quotes a passage from the prose Edda in which Snorri states that his purpose is to provide an alphabet to the Icelanders after the example of the Anglo- Saxons: the fact that Icelandic poets read Old English poetry could indicate
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