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    (Original post by anycon)
    Scholars find themselves championing poems that look insignificant next the work of even minor modern poets.
    That's interesting, do you think Anglo Saxon poems have any instrinsic merit just because they display the origins of our language? I suppose to the extent that the poems are a reflection of society's concerns and values they are important, but I agree that some of them seem less worth studying than almost all other literature I've encountered.
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    Old English is great, though optional at Bristol
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    (Original post by englishstudent)
    That's interesting, do you think Anglo Saxon poems have any instrinsic merit just because they display the origins of our language? I suppose to the extent that the poems are a reflection of society's concerns and values they are important, but I agree that some of them seem less worth studying than almost all other literature I've encountered.
    to some extent you're right; but, it's not just the about the origins of our language. to give some sort of allegory, i'd say that a poem is like a lasagne. modernist poets will use a load of organic crap to make it, other modern english poets will use tinned goods, middle english poets go to france and italy to get their ingredients because they don't know what to do themselves and you could say that old english poets just use whatever they have. with all poems, you end up with the same result; that is, a poem/lasagne. but what i think is most interesting is the fact that different generations of poets, and even different poets, will be using different langage, devices, subject matter even and a whole variety of other things. they've got different preconceptions in their society about poetry to which they must conform, they're got a different form of poetry to conform to etc... so, although some (types of) poems might be more 'worthwhile' than others, there's no harm i think, at least for english students at undergraduate level, going around with their fork and digging into as many different lasagnes as they want. if they find it interesting enough by taste, they can enquire about the different methods used in kitchen.
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    (Original post by anycon)
    My tutor co-edited a book with Griffiths. When Vendler gave it a crap review in the LRB he had to intervene and tone down to letter Griffiths wanted to have published. Apparently it was, well, a sweary rant.
    Ha ha! What was the book? He hardly seems to have published anything: his book on 'The Speaking Voice in Victorian Poetry', and various articles. His reputation in Cambridge seems to rely on his eccentricities and excellent lectures/supervisions.

    There is a compulsory language element in the Oxford course ... sort of. We have to learn Old English. Which is like a foreign language. I'd infinitely prefer to devote that kind of energy to learning French, Spanish, Russian, etc. Their literatures interest me far more that tat like The Battle of Maldon. In a language with relatively little literature it's funny how things get overpraised. Scholars find themselves championing poems that look insignificant next the work of even minor modern poets.
    I sympathise with you! Whilst I've been tempted to learn Old English out of interest in philology, and a desire to read Beowulf &c. in the original, when I consider the amount of literature in Russian, German and Italian that I'd like to read, as well as Latin and Greek, then I feel I'd get far more from working on these languages, on account of the effortossibilities ratio. In fact, OE looks so alien to me I imagine I could pick up Italian or Spanish much faster.

    I suppose that Oxford's argument would be that your course is "English", so you should stick to that tradition - even though 'literature in England' at the start of the millennium is essentially trilingual.

    LOL at "tat".
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    (Original post by silence)
    there's no harm i think, at least for english students at undergraduate level, going around with their fork and digging into as many different lasagnes as they want. if they find it interesting enough by taste, they can enquire about the different methods used in kitchen.
    Yea, but I think anycon's point is that he's being forcefed a lasagne he's not too keen on, whilst at the same time hungering after the delights being consumed on nearby tables.
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    (Original post by silence)
    , i'd say that a poem is like a lasagne.

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    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...993491-5597459
    It's Printed Voice. My tutor kept on trying to get me to read it but I wasn't all that keen. The Realms of Verse is much better I imagine his supervisions would be fun, like a tute with Douglas-Fairhurst.

    My point was simply that Old English poems are overrated by the scholars who devote their lives to studying them. I read a 20-page article about how neglected 'The Battle of Brunanburh' was and how it's a fantastic poem blah blah blah. It isn't. I'd much rather be able to read truly great writers like Homer, Dante, Cervantes, Tolstoy, Proust etc. in the original than Beowulf. And Old English isn't English. It's closer to Old Norse ffs! When you start reading Mitchell & Robinson you realise how unbelievably complicated it is and you're very grateful you only have to read it well enough to write a 2:1-level commentary on a passage you hope to be familiar with already.
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    (Original post by anycon)
    [url]
    It's Printed Voice. My tutor kept on trying to get me to read it but I wasn't all that keen. The Realms of Verse is much better I imagine his supervisions would be fun, like a tute with Douglas-Fairhurst..
    oh my goodness. Douglas-Fairhurst (or 'Does-his-hair-first' as we affectionately referred to him) was a legend in my first year. His lectures were always packed out, right up until the end of term when only the hard-core were still attending the other lecture series.

    I suppose that Oxford's argument would be that your course is "English", so you should stick to that tradition - even though 'literature in England' at the start of the millennium is essentially trilingual.
    Well, yes, except that Latin, French and Italian feed into the rest of the tradition significantly more than Old English. Not simply in terms of the language itself, but the literature. And Old English is really quite a different language; it's only really English in a geographical sense.
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    (Original post by zigguratted)
    Well, yes, except that Latin, French and Italian feed into the rest of the tradition significantly more than Old English. Not simply in terms of the language itself, but the literature. And Old English is really quite a different language; it's only really English in a geographical sense.
    Exactly. My point was that Oxford's argument for the study of Old English would probably relate it to some kind of tradition, into which you could also place other equally 'foreign' languages that anycon might be more interested in learning.
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    Douggie's at Magdalen now and yes he's a sperb lecturer. Oxonians don't seem to appreciate him as much as you lot though.
 
 
 
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