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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Taste in Literature: Anglo Saxon Religious Poems

If you haven't guessed by now, my tastes in lit veer towards the surreal, though a lot of my recent writing has been realistic. I try to choose stories that evoke a sense of the weird, or unheimlich as Heidegger called it.

Anyway, this probably accounts for why I find the stranger Apocalypses interesting reading, though my appreciation for the genre quickly dissipates when reading gnostic gospels. As it is, this poem, Andreas, from the olde English, sounds like a real winner in my book.

There's a translation available (pdf). About the story, Michael Drout (he recorded the MP3 versions of the Anglo Saxon poem linked to above) @ Wormtalk and Slugspeak writes:

But in terms of content, Andreas is really interesting, and if you haven't read this poem, I recommend it, even in the S.A.J. Bradley prose translation: it contains all kinds of weird and interesting things, from cannibalism to drugs that drive people insane to rivers pouring out of marble and drowning the bad guys... God Himself makes a number of appearances, some of them in disguise. I have read Andreas many times since first reading it in grad school, but I still don't know what to make of it.
I don't know why cannibals and other such characters showed up in Anglo Saxon poetry (think Beowulf here), but there it is. At least God wins in the end.

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