Old English Texts

1. General

As part of their preparation for writing the Dictionary of Old English, the staff prepared computer-readable texts of the entire Old English Corpus; a copy is at U.Va. The texts lack glossaries and apparatus, but they can be searched, displayed, copied or printed.
   Almost all Old English texts have been printed in one place or another: see the Greenfield-Robinson Bibliography for editions printed up to the end of 1972. Several series print Old English texts frequently. By far the most prolific of these is the Early English Text Society, Original Series and Supplementary Series (shelved together in Alderman Library); EETS has been publishing scholarly editions of Old and Middle English texts since 1864. Another important scholarly series is Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Prosa, active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Toronto Old English Series, founded in the 1980s, has printed a few Old English editions.
   An important series for students is Methuen's Old English Library, which offers individual texts with full glossaries and helpful commentaries: titles include Ælfric's Colloquy, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Dream of the Rood, Wulfstan's Sermo Lupi ad Anglos and others. The series is now defunct, but most of the texts have been reissued in the series Exeter Medieval Texts by Exeter UP. These texts are very economical but are not marketed in this country. When you visit England you can pick them up cheap at Blackwell's (Oxford), Heffer's (Cambridge) or Dillon's (London).
   In addition, this edition is important for all students of Old English poetry:

* Krapp, George Phillip and Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie. The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records. 6 vols. New York: Columbia UP, 1931-53. This edition prints all Old English poetry known at the time; it is characterized by sound editorial judgment and legendary accuracy (only one typographical error has ever been discovered in the entire series). Explanatory notes are geared toward the specialist and the edition has no glossary. The most important poems have all been edited separately, some several times: check VIRGO for details. Electronic versions of these texts, carefully reviewed for accuracy, are available via the Labyrinth as well as (in a somewhat less convenient format) from the UVA Electronic Text Center.

2. Beowulf

Note: A new edition of Beowulf by Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson is in progress.

Alexander, Michael, ed. Beowulf. London: Penguin, 1995. Glosses on the facing page; a few difficult passages translated in notes. Not a bad book of its kind, but see comment on edition by Jack, below.

* Dobbie, Elliott Van Kirk. This is vol. 4 of the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (see previous section). Probably the best edition now in print, but unfortunately it lacks a glossary.

Jack, George, ed. Beowulf: A Student Edition. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1994. Lots of marginal glosses, and maybe half the poem translated in notes. The difficulty with this edition is that one hardly needs to read the text at all. You could end up understanding the poem but missing the poetry.

* Klaeber, F., ed. Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. 3rd ed. with supplements. Boston: D. C. Heath, 1950. Despite a sometimes eccentric text and a cranky set of explanatory notes, this is considered the standard edition of Beowulf. The glossary is wonderfully helpful, recording the grammatical form of practically every occurrence of every word--a gold mine for students.

Wrenn, C.L., ed. Beowulf with the Finnesburg Fragment. 2nd ed. London: Harrap, 1958. Eccentric; still useful.

Wrenn, C.L., ed. Beowulf with the Finnesburg Fragment. 3rd ed. rev. W.F. Bolton. London: Harrap, 1973.

Wyatt, A.J., ed. Beowulf with the Finnsburg Fragment. Rev. ed. by R.W. Chambers. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1948.

Bibliography Index
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