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The Transmission of "Beowulf"Language, Culture, and Scribal Behavior$
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Leonard Neidorf

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501705113

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501705113.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction
Source:
The Transmission of "Beowulf"
Author(s):

Leonard Neidorf

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501705113.003.0001

This chapter raises the main philological questions regarding the transmission of Beowulf. It introduces the prevailing scholarship on the poem’s philology, such as the duration of its transmission, the detection of scribal errors, and so on. Determining whether a passage in the transmitted text of Beowulf is corrupt or genuine is a matter of rational belief, this chapter argues. Such a process is centered on the following question whether or not it is more reasonable to believe that the passage was genuinely composed by an Old English poet or if it is more reasonable to believe that it is the outcome of scribal error. In addition, the chapter also discusses further aims on proceeding with a text-critical scholarship of Beowulf.

Keywords:   Beowulf, philology, transmission, scribal errors, meter, alliteration, probabilistic reasoning, textual criticism

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