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Elves in Anglo-Saxon England (Anglo-Saxon Studies) Paperback – October 15, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Given the scope implicit in the title, Hall omits parallel study of elves in other, related Germanic literary traditions (not to mention Celtic), only touching on them in a brief appendix on Germanic cognates (purely linguistic in scope). For a glimpse of these other traditions, see Grimm's Deutsche Mythologie, Chapter XVII. But his coverage of OE / ON elves is wonderful. Hall wisely includes onomastics in his study (how many casual readers would otherwise realize that names like "Alfred" included a reference to elves?). He also examines medieval medical texts (addressing the famous -- or infamous -- matter of "elf-shot"). And of course, he ranges all over the literary record of these curious and semi-legendary beings.
For many readers, the material may be much too much. If you're a casual reader, simply interested in elves (as, say, a fan of fantasy literature), then this is surely not the book for you. Even for some academic readers, the level of technical detail may be intimidating. But for serious scholars of the medieval tradition of elves (if Hall is not in fact the first such specialist to be quite so dedicated :), it's an essential new study. Highly recommended!
The concept of Alf, Alp or alb comes up a lot in English lore. Usually it is thought to mean Elf but what is an elf ?, especially in Anglo Saxon lore. The author here uses old lore from the norse and scandinavia to help give the reader a picture of what elves were. The author also relies strongly on linguistics and word variation to give us a definition. While that in itself can be enlightening it can also make for very difficult reading especially if you are not a linguist.
For starters going into old Scandinavian folklore we learn from bardic writing left behind that Elves were usually though of as males who were warriors at that. They were described in very human terms. The author nexts evaluates Icelandic Lore about elves. It is here we learn that Snorri Stulson had his view of elves influenced very strongly by Christianity. Especially with him dividing them into light elves and dark elves. Dark Elves lived below the earth and light elves lived above in the sky with the Aesir. THe elves in Snorri Stulson's view had their own world.
In Germanic lore there were no female elves, yet there were supernatural being that were supernatural. THe three that were spoken of were the Nornir, Disir and Valkyries. In original mythos the terms seem to bespeak supernaturalness and not a specific definition. It was only later that there would be female elves and these seem to have been based on the Greek concept of Nymph. Nymph were water maidens who could sing and seduce men. In fact look at Grenedel from Beowulf.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It seems clear that this is a school or college text that the author has had published. The book is informative, but very dry indeed.Published 10 months ago by Ian B. Cooper
Alaric Hall's Elves in Anglo-Saxon England is a scholarly work and like most academic texts is a bit dry and makes for slow reading. Read morePublished 19 months ago by silver elves
I know of no other scholarly work focusing on this topic in such detail. For those casually perusing the title, be aware the work's focus is academic rather than fantastical. Read morePublished on March 25, 2014 by Lyle K Wheeler