The fifteen essays in this volume focus on the intersections between the Anglo-Saxon past and the present. Such intersections do not merely refer to the question of how the past survives and expresses itself in the present, and even shapes the modern imagination, but also towards the complex dialogues between art and academia, between periods, genres, media, national traditions as well as highbrow and popular art forms across temporal and spatial boundaries. The bulk of the volume’s contributions is, in one way or another, concerned with poetry. The essays largely divide into two groups: one is devoted to tracing Anglo-Saxon literary and cultural allusions in modern poetry, or, more specifically, in the works of David Jones, Basil Bunting, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, and Peter Reading. The collection also includes an investigation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s little known poems in Old English; and there is a chapter primarily concerned with Old Norse references in W.H. Auden’s poetry. An important contribution examines the tradition-building influence of Henry Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader (1876), which primed modernist poets with Anglo-Saxon literature. Mark Atherton shows how Sweet’s anthology of Anglo-Saxon texts, through its various editions, shaped an Anglo-Saxonist poetic tradition in its own right; the poets discussed in this volume bear testimony to this. The second group of essays marks the legacy of the Beowulf-epic in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in contemporary poetry as well as various other genres (opera, crime fiction, film and other visual media). The two groups of essays intersect in that there is a strong emphasis on visual culture and “thing studies”, not only in the investigations of Beowulf comics, graphic novels, print editions, and films, but also in some of the explorations of contemporary poetry; only one essay is not concerned with Beowulf-adaptations and/or Anglo-Saxonist poetry: Maria Sachiko Cecire’s investigation of the various transformations of the figure of Wayland Smith in popular culture, most notably children’s literature.
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