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The Origins of Beowulf: and the Pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia [Paperback]

Sam Newton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 32.53 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

April 1 2004
`A thoroughly plausible scenario for the poet's interest in affairs long ago and far away.' TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Persuasive ... exciting. MICHAEL WOOD Where did Beowulf, unique and thrilling example of an Old English epic poem come from? In whose hall did the poem's maker first tell the tale? The poem exists now in just one manuscript, but careful study of the literary and historical associations reveals striking details which lead Dr Newton to claim, as he pieces together the various clues, a specific origin for the poem. Dr Newton suggests that references in Beowulf to the heroes whose names are listed in Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies indicate that such Northern dynastic concerns are most likely to have been fostered in the kingdom of East Anglia. He supports his thesis with evidence drawn from East Anglian archaeology, hagiography and folklore. His argument, detailed and passionate, offers the exciting possibility that he has discovered the lost origins of the poem in the pre-Viking kingdom of 8th-century East Anglia.SAM NEWTON was awarded his Ph.D. for work on Beowulf.

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Cogent and fascinating attempt to place the composition of Beowulf in an eighth-century East Anglian context, through a careful survey of an impressive array of supporting palaeographical, genealogical, archaeological, and literary-historical evidence... An important book, and deserves serious attention... Dr Newton has now shifted the burden of proof onto those who would detract from his thesis. In such a deeply-entrenched field as modern Beowulf-studies, this is of itself a considerable achievement. ANDREW ORCHARD, DEPT OF ANGLO-SAXON, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGEA useful survey of work on the manuscript, language, metrics, archaeology (Especially East Anglian ship burials), and, in particular, the connections of Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies with named figures in the poem... an informed and well-balanced study of the state of the argument. EARLY MEDIEVAL EUROPEA thoroughly plausible scenario for the poet's interest in affairs long ago and far away. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (Tom Shippey)This up-to-date and shrewd book must be regarded as a major contribution in its field. ANTIQUARIES JOURNAL (Rupert Bruce-Mitford) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4.0 out of 5 stars A great read April 1 2000
By SI
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in the history of Vikings and Norsemen should read this book.It kept me reading long into the night.The action sequences were well written and it goes without saying that it should be read before veiwing the movie.If you enjoyed 'Eaters of the Dead' by Michael Crichton you will enjoy this.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff Nov. 29 2010
By J. Aronson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wish I had read this in high school or college. Sam Newton may or may not be right, we will never know, but he is very credible when he suggests that Beowulf accurately describes the comings and goings of one group of late Migration Age or early Vendel Age Geats through and across the Danish islands of Fyn and Zealand. Newton's take on Beowulf should interest anyone who is also interested in what a contemporary account of one event in the Migration Age might have looked like.

One has no trouble imagining that the description of Beowulf and his Geats in Beowulf is pretty much what had been going for the better part of the millennium before about 500 CE. In Beowulf they returned to Götland, but the conclusion is inescapable that at other times similar groups likely left southern Sweden bound for Zealand and then went east and became Goths, or any one of the other east Germanic tribes; or went west and became Jutes,Frisians and Danes; or went south and became Saxons, Franks or any one of the other west Germanic tribes. It also lends support to impression that in the late Iron Age, the terms "Denmark" and "Danes" likely described all of the land and all of the people in southern Sweden, Norway, Jutland and the islands of Fyn and Zealand (Sjelland). If you read this, keep in mind that distance across the Oresund between southwest Sweden and Zealand in Denmark is less than two miles at Heslinger (Elsinore)-Helsingborg and about 5 miles between Malmo and Copenhagen. It has been demonstrated that the locals had been able to build paddle powered boats capable of making this journey, and big enough to carry a war-party of at least 20, since at least the middle of the Iron Age.

The Sutton Hoo burial does suggest that the same kind of people were living in East Anglia, Denmark, southern Norway and Sweden, south of Norrköping, in the Vendel era.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Monograph Nov. 18 2012
By NewJerseyBede - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is easily one of the best monographs written about Beowulf in recent decades. It is a work of serious and sober scholarship, infused with just the right amount of imagination to breathe life into the fragmentary evidence. Of all attempts to date and localize the composition of Beowulf, this is perhaps the most persuasive yet offered. Newton's learning is impressive. The reader will invariably learn much about many things, since Newton incorporates a remarkably wide range of evidence into his study. Highly recommended.
16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read April 1 2000
By SI - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in the history of Vikings and Norsemen should read this book.It kept me reading long into the night.The action sequences were well written and it goes without saying that it should be read before veiwing the movie.If you enjoyed 'Eaters of the Dead' by Michael Crichton you will enjoy this.
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