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Beowulf Essay | Critical Essay #5

Gareth Hinds
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Critical Essay #5

In the following excerpt, Bradley discusses the controversy over the dating of Beowulf and comments on its oral tradition. Bradley notes that the early criticism of Beowulf focused on the work as a source of information regarding early Germanic culture rather than as a poem.

The date of the poem remains an unsettled problem. A written version of it preceding the uniquely surviving MS may safely be postulated, and beyond doubt is the likelihood that a form of the poem was in circulation among poets of the oral tradition for some centuries before the known MS version was made. Indeed, the principal motifs of the poem's plot are motifs of widespread folklore, and parts of the story, and the figures of Beowulf and of the monsters, have analogies elsewhere in the ancient literature of North-West Europe. But the story as it survives embodies, unless we have misunderstood it...

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This section contains 1,365 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Beowulf Study Guide
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Beowulf from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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