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Move over Beowulf and make way for Judith!

It seems that our English teachers forgot to share with us one more Epic.

This additional text was in the same manuscript containing Beowulf — the model Anglo-Saxon Hero. The saga about Judith has survived right along with that of Beowulf for 1200 plus years because it was deemed great by others for many centuries.

The Modern Age teachers disagreed, it seems, and only foster the teaching of Beowulf.

Why do you suppose the Victorians and those after them did so?

Perhaps it is because Judith shows the classic Heroine role model for the Dark and Middle Ages, The Valiant Virgin. It didn't seem advisable to sully “modern” youth  with that particular bit of history.

Until now, that is.

Elfinspell is proud to bring you the text of Judith from the 9th century as translated by Albert S. Cook, a professor of the University of California in the late 1800's. He thought it was important, even then, to acknowledge the role of powerful women throughout history. He also recognized the modern tendency to discount all such feminist literature.

Cook challenged the general suppression of these texts with similar heroic female role models, unsuccessfully it seems. His cause was Just then, and it is Just now. So, we reproduce his work to continue to spread the word.

The translation is also far more readable than many translations of Beowulf and the rhythm is entrancing even at first glance. With practice it gets even better.

With no shilly-shallying, you may go straight to the epic: JUDITH.

As usual, the text is far more engaging than the scholarly prefaces, which can wait until you have savored the poem itself. In this case, though, Professor Cook has an interesting theory on the time and the occasion the poem was written and that is interesting. There is also a picture of a page of the manuscript. If you would like to begin with these start HERE.

Plans are in the works to put up Professor Cook’s Anglo-Saxon text but it is slow work due to coding difficulties for Anglo-Saxon letters. The Old English text is already on line elsewhere anyway, in the general form.

If you are interested in the Glossary, and the Anglo-Saxon text as Cook transcribes it, please contact us [me].


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