Beowulf Criticism

Gareth Hinds
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If the Beowulf manuscript is not the author's autograph (the author's own handwriting), as claimed by Kevin Kiernan, then the first critical appreciation we have of the poem is the manuscript itself. Someone thought enough to copy it down or to have it copied on good vellum by two fairly good scribes - incurring a sizable expense for the year 1000. Another indication of early popularity may be in its apparent influence on another Old English poem, Andreas, which survives in a manuscript kept at Exeter Cathedral in Devon since the mid-eleventh century. After that there is no sign of the poem for well over five hundred years.

Laurence Nowell acquired the eleventh-century manuscript in the 1560s and wrote his name and date on the top of the first page. The manuscript eventually appeared in the library of a family named Cotton, but it does not appear in either...

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This section contains 971 words
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Beowulf from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.