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Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066). II. Anglo Saxon Literature. Introduction to British Literature 1. What literature is 2. Early Literature and the Epic. --characteristics of the epic. 3. The Personality of England. a. Timeline of British Literature and Thought

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Ii anglo saxon literature
II. Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Introduction to British Literature

    1. What literature is

    2. Early Literature and the Epic

--characteristics of the epic

3 the personality of england
3. The Personality of England

a. Timeline of British Literature and Thought

449 1066 1492 1660 1790 1830 1914 1945


Anglo- Medieval Rennais. Reason Rom. Victor. Mod. Anxiety


B britain s island personality
b. Britain’s Island Personality

  • Strongly independent

  • Individual freedom—

    Anglo-Saxon heritage

    worth of the individual)

  • Strongly traditional – _____ system (medieval)

    mistrust of the _________ class

    ______ family into the 21st century

I anglo saxon literature 449 1066
I. Anglo Saxon Literature (449—1066)

  • Introduction—Historical and Philosophical Background

    1. Germanic invasions (Britons [Celts] conquered by Romans—Romans leave—Germanic barbarians invade

    a. Angles

    b. Saxons

    c. Jutes

Anglo saxon literature
Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Primitive Heroic Ideal

    a. Ideal of Kingly


    b. The Warrior ideals

    c. Goal—win enduring


A intro to anglo saxon literature
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Christianity and Written Culture Arrive

    a. 597—Augustine (no, not that one) arrives in England and brings writing and a new morality

    --earlier Celts and Romans had been Christians

  • The Venerable Bede

  • Alfred, King of the West Saxons (871—899)

A intro to anglo saxon literature1
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Old English Poetry

    a. written literature in England begins in 7th century

    b. Before that—the scop

A intro to anglo saxon literature2
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

c. Mead, mead halls, and mead hall lifestyle

A intro to anglo saxon literature3
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

d. The Spirit of Old English Poetry

1. dark world; little _________; warrior life

2. style (no “romantic” poetry)

3. but—OE poetry had


--ironic __________________

--subtle and intense depiction of the nature

or reality—no sentimentality—wyrd (____)

A intro to anglo saxon literature4
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Types of Anglo Saxon Literature

    a. heroic epic—long narrative whose main character is THE EPIC HERO

    --great bravery

    --super human ability


A intro to anglo saxon literature5
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

b. Elegiac lyrics—express thoughts and


c. Riddles—guessing games

--shows Anglo Saxon love of

A intro to anglo saxon literature6
A. Intro to Anglo Saxon Literature

  • Style of Literature—A--S Literary Techniques





B beowulf
B. Beowulf

  • Introduction

    a. Great epic poem of the Anglo Saxon age

    b. English writing about their Germanic forebears

    c. originally oral (scops) but written down later (early 700s) by a Christian (the “Beowulf poet”)

B beowulf introduction
B. Beowulf (introduction)

  • Beowulf is a profound mixture of two sets of values

    1. Anglo Saxon _________


    2. Christian _______ and God

2 meanings in beowulf
2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Surface level

    b. Not just about feuds but about a deeper

    sense of evil—what does Beowulf say about evil?

    --the symbolism of the monster

2 meanings in beowulf con t
2. Meanings in Beowulf (con’t.)

C. What does Beowulf say about the Heroic Ideal?

--bravery is the instrument by which the hero realizes himself

--Hrothgar compared to Beowulf—shows what?

--Beowulf meets his doom but not before he shows his ______________

2 meanings in beowulf1
2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Philosophical level

    --what does Beowulf say about:

    fate (wyrd)?

    --sense of doom

    knowledge of death

    bravery and courage

2 meanings in beowulf2
2. Meanings in Beowulf

  • Psychological / archetypal level

    1. The hero’s journey (the monomyth)

    2. What does Beowulf say about being human?

Setting and characters
Setting and Characters

  • Herot—

  • Hrothgar—

  • Beowulf—

  • Grendel

3 setting and characters
3. Setting and Characters

  • Grendel’s mother—

  • Swamp--

  • Dragon—

  • Wiglaf--

4 symbolism in beowulf
4. Symbolism in Beowulf

  • Psychological

    (swamp, Grendel, mother,


  • Social

    (Hrothgar, Beowulf,


  • Universal (G., G.’s mother,

    the dragon, the treasure,

    the tower

5 conclusion
5. Conclusion

The Anglo Saxon people, like all people, were much like us, dealing with—

--a dangerous and seemingly uncaring world

--what being human means

--what living with bravery and honor means

--battling the monsters that endanger us

They were our grand—parents who lived in difficult times with pride and courage.