Old English Textual Activity in the Reign of Henry II
The focus of this chapter and the one by Elaine Treharne which follows it is on the body of texts written in Old English during Henry’s reign. This Old English textual production could be seen as a kind of subculture, marginal to, and arguably competing with, the dominant literatures in Anglo-Norman and Middle English that form the focus of other chapters in the volume. It has often been obscured and overlooked by scholarly surveys of the literature of the period, and its very existence raises some important questions about the linguistic and literary map of twelfth-century England. In particular, this material highlights the importance of always envisaging textual production and use in the period in a plurilinguistic context, in which language choices are made by writers and readers for different reasons at different moments, in which those choices always carry implications for cultural identity, and in which the carrying forward of pre-Conquest English linguistic and literary traditions must bear very particular meaning.
KeywordsEnglish Text Twelfth Century Textual Production English Manuscript English Prose
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- 1.Susan Irvine, “The compilation and use of manuscripts containing Old English in the twelfth century,” in Rewriting Old English in the Twelfth Century, ed. Mary Swan and Elaine M. Treharne, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England 30 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 41–61 (at 47).Google Scholar
- 5.Details of manuscript dates and provenance are taken from N. R. Ker, A Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Old English (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957; reprinted 1990) and Swan and Treharne, Rewriting Old English.Google Scholar
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