Perusing the New York Times this morning, I found this lovely little tidbit from Christopher Hitches on Harry Potter. My favorite bit:
Perhaps Anglophilia continues to play its part, but if I were one of the few surviving teachers of Anglo-Saxon I would rejoice at the way in which such terms as muggle and Wizengamot, and such names as Godric, Wulfric and Dumbledore, had become common currency. At this rate, the teaching of “Beowulf” could be revived. The many Latin incantations and imprecations could also help rekindle interest in the study of a “dead” language.
Few? Surviving? I realize Hitchens is trying to make a point here, but it's kind of lost in the implication that anyone who wants to teach Anglo-Saxon must be slightly nuts and hopelessly lost in the fantasy that Beowulf has something to do with popular culture.
I'm being touchy, clearly, but still: that unfortunate collocation of adjectives suggests that Anglo-Saxonists are a dying breed. Hitchens continues to convey the false impression that all Anglo-Saxonists are both old and throwbacks to another era, irrelevant to modernity (though, apparently not without hope, impressively drawn through philological use of names rather than actual ideas or storylines) -- and given that Hitchens seems incapable of mentioning a female author who can match his beloved Orwell, Conan Doyle, and Pullman (whose entire oeuvre ends up a tedious attack on CS Lewis), that they're all men too.
Yes, I'm being unfair. But as a female Anglo-Saxonist who turned 25 last Monday and loves such authors as Ursula K. LeGuin and Agatha Christie -- I couldn't just let it slide.