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The Cambridge Old English Reader Hardcover – 1 Apr 2004
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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
This 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 a reference grammar and glossary.See all Product description
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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.