Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Breaking News in Old English Studies! Beowulf = Fact!

Pointed out by morganLF over on the medievalstudies community at Livejournal, and passed on to me by a colleague, check out the news about Beowulf:

Turns out that it's all true. Yes, you heard me correctly:

Only one manuscript of the original poem exists. People found it, partly burned, in England about five hundred years after Beowulf lived. No one knows who originally wrote it. Many literature books say that it is fiction, one of the earliest examples we have of an English novel. But if someone were writing fiction, he would not name so many real people; he would invent characters as novelists do. And if someone wrote it long after the events, he would not know all those real people who lived in Beowulf’s time. It must have been first written at or near the time that Beowulf lived. All parts of the story hold together as though one person wrote it. It does not show evidence that bards sang it and added and changed as the years moved along.

Not to mention, the article also tells us, Grendel was a dinosaur. Dragons were also dinosaurs. People were terrorized by flying dinosaurs in the Middle Ages and called them wyrms:

Why, then, do so many literature critics say that Beowulf is fiction? It is because they do not believe that dinosaur creatures lived at the same time men lived. Their evolutionary worldview says that dinosaurs lived long ages before men evolved on the earth. Therefore, in their minds, this all must be fiction. But with a Biblical worldview, we can see that dinosaurs entered the ark with Noah—land species at least—and they lived on the earth again after the Flood. But the post-Flood earth was not so hospitable to large creatures and they eventually became almost extinct.

Thank goodness -- my childhood dreams are illusions no more. Dinosaurs still exist! And more importantly, I have the missing link in all my interests: Dinosaurs, my very first love, are in fact a key part of Beowulf! Looks like I don't have to give up my hopes of doing paleontology just because I want to study some inaccessible old poem. Thank goodness it wasn't burned 500 years after Beowulf lived in Denmark before becoming king of Sweden, or I'd have never known.

< / sarcasm

Sigh. Thanks to morganLF and to my friend for pointing this out. File it under things that make you laugh until you cry, and then, once you've recovered, go "hmmmm...."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

morganLF, I believe, as in le fay, not as in elrond

-BB

Anonymous said...

(because I am a hopeless stickler and pedant -BB)

anhaga said...

consider it fixed. :) I have a tendency to add letters to see tolkienian things -- for years I thought there was a town in NC called Elfland. Turns out it's Efland. Ah well. Apologies to MorganLF for my mispelling.

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Dr. Virago said...

Oh that is just too, too much. Thanks for making me laugh (the first novel???) and cry (no, don't let the fundies ruin Beowulf!).

Hmmm, I wonder what that person makes of the fact that Grendel is called a descendant of Cain. Is he a dino-human?

(Btw, as you can tell, I'm just catching up with things blogular, so I just saw this post.)

Reform said...

I am full of joy! Dinosaurs! If only there was more Jesus in Anglo-Saxon lit, it would be a better place...

ps, you can follow this link to another link to my blog :)

Marina