History and Anthology of English Literature ;
The Anglo-Saxon Period
; Historical background
; The literature
; The Song of Beowulf
; Before 410 A.D Britain had been a Roman province for four hundred years;
; In 410 A.D. Romans withdrew their legions from Britain; ; About 449 A.D Teutonic tribes conquered and settled down;
; About 449 A.D. Anglos, Saxons and Jutes named the central island England;
; About 449 A. D. Aboriginal Celtic population was drove westward.
; Saga: 英雄传奇
; Epic: Epic is one of the ancient types of poetry and plays a very important role in early development of literature and civilization.
; An epic is a long narrative poem of great scale and grandiose style about the heroes who are usually warriors or even demigods. The epic deals with noble characters and heroic deeds.
; primitive epics Odyssey Beowulf
; literary epics Paradise lost
The Song of Beowulf
; It can be justly termed England’s national epic and its hero Beowulf---one of the national heroes of the English people.
; Author: an unknown scribe
; Time: 10th Century
; Content: the events which took place on the Continent at the beginning of the 6th Century
; Parts: 3128 lines, 2 parts
; The poem tells of a hero, a Scandinavian prince named Beowulf, who rids the Danes of the monster Grendel, half man and half fiend, and Grendel's mother, who comes that evening to avenge Grendel's death.
; Fifty years later Beowulf, now king of his native land, fights a dragon who has devastated his people. Both Beowulf and the dragon are mortally wounded in the fight. The poem ends with Beowulf's funeral.
; 1). The chief significance of the epic lies in the vivid portrayal of a great national hero, strong and
courageous and selfless and ever helpful to his people and his kinsfolk.
; 2). the primitive people’s struggle against hostile forces in nature
; The mixture of pagan and Christian elements enriches the epic poem:
; Man of virtues vs Monsters of evil ; Zeus Titans
; Christ Satan
; The king’s palace and hall can stand for an order. The monster Grendel, connected with darkness, can stand for evil, which causes chaos and disorder. The centre is bright, while the disorderly chaos is full of darkness. Think of the Genesis in the
; Beowulf’s descendent into the dark water to kill Grendel’s mother resembles Christ’s descendent into hell to defeat death after his Passion on the Cross and before his resurrection. Beowulf’s final battle with the dragon reminds the reader of Christ’s final battle with the Dragon (Satan) before the last judgment.
; Stylistic features :
; 1) This epic is written in Old English,
; 2) Use of alliteration
; 3) In vigorous, picturesque language, with heavy use of metaphor
; A kenning is a metaphor usually composed of two words, which becomes the formula for a special object. ; helmet bearer --> “warrior,”
; “swan’s bath” or “whale’s road” --> “the sea,”
; sea wood --> ship
; “the world candle” --> “the sun.”
; Alliteration: head rhyme/ initial rhyme
; the repetition of the same sounds, --usually initial consonants of words or of stressed syllables – in any sequence of
; The silence of the evening is smoothed out like slick silk. ; 夜晚的静谧就像光滑的绸子一样被抚平
; She sells seashell on the seashore, and the seashell she sells on the seashore are seashell I'm sure.