In choosing a subject whose career has exemplified the fruitful pursuit of English and early Germanic philology, one could hardly do better than to consider R. D. Fulk. His substantial and influential body of work is firmly rooted in the exacting study of linguistic detail—especially Old English metrics and phonology—but the ultimate value of his oeuvre is much wider as he has made lasting contributions to the editing, the history, and the pedagogy of Old English literature. Alongside a myriad of article-length studies, Fulk is well known for his 1992 monograph, A History of Old English Meter, most often cited for developing a methodology for using metrics to date Old English poems. Fulk’s understanding of the evidential value of philology has also informed his editorial work, providing the necessary competence (and courage) for the revision (with R. E. Bjork and J. D. Niles) of F. Klaeber’s standard edition of Beowulf (2008). He has authored successful introductory textbooks for Old English (2014) and Middle English (2012), and, with Christopher Cain, A History of Old English Literature now in its second edition (2013). No current scholar of Old English literature can remain uninfluenced by Fulk’s publications. The festschrift under review constitutes an appropriate tribute to Rob Fulk by matching the rigour of his scholarship and, to a certain degree, its breadth. Of the 21 essays in the volume, the first (by Leonard Neidorf) and the last (by Tom Shippey) describe the nature of Fulk’s scholarship and its importance in the history of Anglo-Saxon studies. Unsurprisingly, eight of the remaining chapters focus on metrics, the area in which Fulk is most influential. Some of these papers adhere closely to the problems of metrical theory and analysis. For example, a synchronic approach to Old English meter shapes the essays by Rafael Pascual, ‘Sievers, Bliss, Fulk, and Old English Metrical Theory’ and Thomas Cable, ‘Ictus as Stress or Length: The Effect of Tempo’. In a more diachronic mode, Geoffrey Russom extends his view back to Proto-Germanic in his interrogation of ‘Metrical Complexity and Verse Placement in Beowulf’, while Donka Minkova moves in the opposite direction (‘Prosody-Meter Correspondences in Late Old English and Poema Morale’). Half of the metrical studies expand to adjacent fields of inquiry. Jun Terasawa addresses morphosyntax in ‘The Suppression of the Subjunctive in Beowulf: A Metrical Explanation’, and Leonard Neidorf picks up a Fulkian thread in ‘Metrical Criteria for the Emendation of Old English Poetic Texts’. Although all of the metrical studies are strong, this reviewer was most taken by the two papers linking metrics and stylistics. In ‘Alliterating Finite Verbs and the Origin of Rank in Old English Poetry’, Mark Griffith discovers that the alliterative patterning of finite verbs depends more upon register than upon syntax, thus placing Old English poetry closer to Middle English alliterative practice. Megan Hartman concentrates on a single poem, The Fortunes of Men, and demonstrates that the gnomic poet alters not just sentence structure, but also metrical structure, when he switches between gnomic and narrative discourse types. Following metrics, the next most popular topic in this volume is lexicography. Five papers present different types of word studies, some addressing groups of words, as in Dennis Cronan’s ‘The Poetics of Poetic Words in Old English’, others focusing on a single word, as in Daniel Donoghue’s semantic analysis of the word engel (‘Dream of the Rood 9b: A Cross as an Angel?’). Two essays argue from absence: George Clark (‘The Anglo-Saxons and Superbia: Finding a Word for it’) concluding that this particular Latin sin never found a consistent gloss in Old English, and Haruko Momma (‘Worm: A Lexical Approach to the Beowulf Manuscript’) noting the absence of earthworms in the Nowell Codex in favour of a more monstrous (and less institutionally Christian) wyrmcynn. Anatoly Liberman ponders the relationships between ‘Old English gelōme, gelōma, Modern English loom, lame, and Their Kin’. Considering Rob Fulk’s influence on the methods of dating texts, it would be unfortunate to find no dating studies here; luckily, the volume does not disappoint. Aaron Ecay and Susan Pintzuk approach the problem from a linguistic perspective (‘The Syntax of Old English Poetry and the Dating of Beowulf’), while Charles Wright offers an object lesson in how source study can date (and help to place) texts when he convincingly links Genesis A to the teachings of Theodore of Tarsus (‘The Fate of Lot’s Wife: A ‘Canterbury School’ Gloss in Genesis A’). Stefan Jurasinski is, wisely, a bit less confident in connecting a specific penitential text to Wulfstan in his ‘Wulfstan, Episcopal Authority, and the Handbook for the Use of a Confessor’. As another option for placing the origins of texts, Christopher Cain argues with admirable clarity that scribal use of the e-caudata graph might point to practices specific to certain ecclesiastical centres (‘Some Observations on e-caudata in Old English Texts’). The two remaining papers juxtapose analogues to specific poems. Andy Orchard (‘The Originality of Andreas’) describes ways in which the Andreas-poet composed in both traditional and innovative ways. In an interesting twist, Rory Naismith uses poetry to enhance our understanding of historical documents, rather than the reverse, when he demonstrates that the stylized, aristocratic depiction of wealth and exchange in Beowulf also underlies the representation of land exchange in Anglo-Saxon charters (‘The Economy of Beowulf’). The title of this book—Old English Philology—states simply and boldly what it contains. Like the scholar they honour, the contributors to the festschrift revel in the rigorous argumentation that the best philological work demands. As a result, the rewards of philological study, in this case its contributions to our understanding of numerous facets of Old English poetry, are also on full display. The editors are to be commended for bringing together such an impressive concentration of intellectual effort, and R. D. Fulk should be proud for having inspired it. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press 2017; all rights reserved
The Review of English Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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