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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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Conclusion

Conclusion

Chapter:
(p.133) 5 Conclusion
Source:
The Transmission of "Beowulf"
Author(s):

Leonard Neidorf

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501705113.003.0005

This chapter surveys linguistic regularities in Beowulf in order to gauge the extent to which the poem’s text might have been altered during its transmission. For the literary critics and cultural historians who constitute the majority of scholars interested in Beowulf, no question pertaining to textual transmission is more consequential than that of the poem’s unity. The same metrical features that establish Beowulf as an archaic composition also provide firm indications that the poem is a unitary composition transmitted with minimal scribal interference. In addition, direct examination of the linguistic evidence is the most reliable method for determining the relative probability of competing hypotheses concerning the unity of Beowulf.

Keywords:   linguistic regularities, textual transmission, metrical features, unitary composition, scribal interference, linguistic evidence, textual criticism, manuscript context

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