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The Cambridge Old English Reader Paperback – April 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521456128 ISBN-10: 0521456126

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 566 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521456126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521456128
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,204,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The selection of texts covers ground that no previous Reader has approached. There are items that will be of interest to specialists in Womenas Studies and Cultural Studies o 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

"Marsden's Reader offers much to admire... the book is a boon to beginners and advanced students who might want to experience some 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." The Medieval Review

"The user-friendly Reader is based on rigorous scholarship. The texts are edited from the original manuscripts, microfilms, or facsimiles, with no attempt at normalization and with very few modifications except for expansion of contractions and capitalization of proper names as well as the two principal names for the diety (p xix). The introduction to each text offers useful background knowledge and well-selected secondary material for further reading. The substantial reference grammar will serve as a dependable guide for studetns who need to refresh their memory in morphology and syntax. In sum, the Cambridge Old English Reader promises to become a standard textbook for teachers who plan to offer an intermediate course and for students who hope to conduct further reading on their own after completing an introductory course." - Haruko Momma, New York University

Book Description

This is a major new 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 breaks new ground, first in its range of texts, and second in the degree of annotation it offers. The fifty-six prose and verse texts include established favourites and some less familiar works. Headnotes, modern English word glosses and explanatory notes occur on the same page. Other features include a reference grammar and a comprehensive glossary.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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32 of 45 people found the following review helpful By rasselas on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NarrelleAttard ATTARD on June 5, 2013
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."
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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.
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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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