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The Cambridge Old English Reader [Paperback]

Richard Marsden
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 25.99
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Book Description

1 April 2004 0521456126 978-0521456128
This 2004 book is a major reader of Old English, the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons before the Norman Conquest. Designed both for beginning and for more advanced students, it broke new ground in two ways, first in its range of texts, and second in the degree of annotation it offers. The fifty-six prose and verse texts include the established favourites such as The Battle of Maldon and King Alfred's Preface to his Pastoral Care, but also others which have not before been readily available, such as a complete Easter homily, Aelfric's life of Saint Aethelthryth and all forty-six Durham proverbs. Headnotes establish the literary and historical contexts for the works that are represented, and reflect the rich cultural variety of Anglo-Saxon England. Modern English word glosses and explanatory notes are provided on the same page as the text. Other features include a reference grammar and a comprehensive glossary.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 566 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521456126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521456128
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The selection of texts covers ground that no previous Reader has approached. There are items that will be of interest to specialists in Women's Studies and Cultural Studies … The reference grammar has the best presentation I have seen in a resource of this sort - the content is both comprehensive and concise; and the arrangement is logical and user-friendly. The headnotes are also outstanding …' Paul Remley, University of Washington, Seattle

'Marsden has done a masterful job of glossing and annotating the texts in the Reader … he gets the level of annotation just right for a university-level student of the subject. I admire his headnotes very much for the amount of material he manages to convey in a relatively short space … I think that this book will be very easy to teach from. The number of texts that he offers in the book is remarkable and admirable … in addition, the careful level of glossing and annotation of some difficult texts means that a teacher can assign a much wider range of texts than usual in an introductory course …' Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, University of Notre Dame

'… offering a bountiful assortment of diverse texts thoughtfully edited for basic students of Old English. The book seems to arise from a long and dedicated engagement with Old English pedagogy, and its sheer diversity and breadth of scope makes it likely that almost any teacher of Old English will find something in it of value … Every page of this book reveals the intelligence and attention to detail that characterize Marsden's scholarly work … Marsden's book would be an excellent choice for a class that wanted to emphasize dialect, orthography, and language change; by making this material so abundantly and easily available it may even convince some teachers to point out (or, one suspects, to re-learn themselves) the variations in dialect and orthography that are such important evidence for the cultural history of Old English … Marsden's Reader offers much to admire: the scholarly precision of its texts, the generosity of its apparatus, the insights of its annotations and introductions, and the obvious talent and care with which it was assembled. The book is a boon to beginners and advanced students who might want to experience some of the [of the] vividness and variety of Old English literature, and a challenge to teachers whose pedagogy has become routinized in a few canonical texts, unquestioned assumptions and repetitive readings. It is a welcome reminder that there are many roads less travelled in Old English studies - not just texts, but ways of thinking about texts and ways of presenting texts, literary themes, cultural history, and an exciting diversity of languages, manuscripts, and approaches. The rich banquet found in the Cambridge Reader would not easily be exhausted in a semester, or even a year-long course in Old English; it is sure to inspire in both students and teachers alike a fresh dedication to the work of understanding Anglo-Saxon England.' The Medieval Reader

'Marsden's Reader is traditional … The preliminaries offer sensible and succinct observations on such matters a as punctuation, spelling variation, and emendation (admirably kept to a minimum except for the Colloquy) … Marsden's Convenient and thought-provoking rough categorization brings to the front of his reader two groupings that could prompt teachers of Old English to think out their courses anew.' English Language and Linguistics

Book Description

This 2004 book is a major reader of Old English, designed both for beginning and for more advanced students. It broke new ground, first in its broad and unusual range of verse and prose texts, and second in the degree of same-page annotation it offers, plus reference grammar and glossary.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Centuries before their continental neighbours, for whom Latin long remained the major language of writing, the Anglo-Saxons had an extensive literature in their own vernacular - Old English. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old English Textbook 25 Oct 2010
By Petya
The book provides short introduction to Old English Grammar, a concise glossary and many Old English Texts, suitable for translation. The Cambridge Old English Reader is easy to use and it is very practical. I recommend it to everyone who has an interest in Old English literature.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one! 20 Nov 2004
By Anonymous - Published on
So much Old English literature is presented to us in translation that we are at risk of losing the knowledge of the language.

Not with this, however - the best anthology of Old English literature currently available. I've enjoyed digging around among the 56 prose and verse texts, which mingle old favourites with less familiar works. A reference grammar and comprehensive glossary are included at the end of the book.

The texts are grouped thematically, in sections including: Teaching and Leaning (including bits from old medical lore), Recording (which includes some of the law codes of, e.g. King Ethelbert of Kent - the first notable Christian convert).

Of course all the usually anthologised bits by King Alfred, Aelfric, etc. are there, plus the poems the Wanderer, Seafarer, and Dream of the Rood. But how nice to see some of the rarer stuff, which really give an insight into both Anglo-Saxon life and writing.

It's beautifully laid out and easy to use, incorporating a reference grammar and glossary at the back. The likelihood of ruining this book with your own annotations is nil: Modern English word glosses and explanatory notes are considerately placed on the page you're reading.

Highly recommended.
30 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Proceed with caution... 6 May 2005
By rasselas - Published on
You should really know a few things before purchasing this book.

(1.) Marsden offers far too many marginal glosses. I understand the need to gloss difficult words or unscramble problematic phrases. But basic verbs like "sculan" and "magan" are consistently glossed throughout this text, and Marsden even tells you the case and gender of many nouns, even if the case and gender are clear. This kind of information ought to be in the glossary, obviously, but it certainly doesn't need to be right next to the text. So what's the problem, you ask? Well, the heavy glossing acts as a crutch and inhibits one's learning of the language.

(2.) The text contains many, many typos. "P" appears instead of "thorn" on a number of occasions; punctuation is often faulty; the glossary doesn't always offer the correct case and gender for various words.

(3.) The warhorse of Old English textbooks -- Mitchell and Robinson -- is still the best way to introduce yourself to Anglo-Saxon language and literature. (The new grammar by Peter Baker isn't bad, either, but I find it a bit remedial at times.)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent basic grammar section. 5 Jun 2013
By NarrelleAttard ATTARD - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I could find nothing wanting. All the effort spent to ensure that there is an explanation for every word and phrase is phenomenal, even when the explanation is, "no one knows."
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the usual suspects 3 Mar 2014
By David Gunn - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted something beyond the usual suspects - e.g., "The Wanderer," "The Seafarer," "The Dream of the Rood" - and found it here. You can only read the same 10 or 12 works so many times. Although those familiar works appear here, they are accompanied by a variety of lesser known items, such as "For Vomiting" and "For Dysentery." This book is now my favorite collection of OE writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Old English Reader 3 May 2011
By Thucydides - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Cambridge Old English Reader has, fist of all, the widest range of readings of any Old English anthology, with the possible exception of Dorothy Whitelock's revision of Sweet's reader, published by Oxford University Press. In contrast to Marsden, however, Whitelock's notes are extremely skimpy and of very little use to users working on their own. Marsden has the further advantage of very full, up-to-date bibliographies and, for the most part, more detailed introductions setting the historical and cultural context. My only negative criticism is that words in the Old English texts are frequently glossed in such a way that the student is not called on to determine what the inflected form the word is and why the syntax requires that form. Overall, though, outstanding and most welcome.
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