Water and Fire: The Myth of the Flood in Anglo-Saxon England

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Manchester University Press, 2006 M10 31 - 398 páginas
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"The story of Noah's Flood is one of the Bible's most popular stories, and flood myths are preserved by cultures across the world. This book presents the first comprehensive study of the incorporation of the Flood myth into the Anglo-Saxon imagination, ranging from the works of Bede to Beowulf. Focusing on literary representations, this original study contributes to the understanding of the Anglo-Saxons' perception of their place in a universal history unfolding in the interval between the primeval deluge and a future - perhaps imminent - flood of fire, which would destroy the world. This book examines in detail a diverse range of texts which focus on the myth of the Flood, revealing both an imaginative diversity and shared tradition in the interpretation of the myth. On the one hand, the Anglo-Saxons saw in the Flood a climactic event in God's ongoing war with his more rebellious creatures, especially the foolish giants, while on the other they saw in allegory the mystery of redemption through baptism. Most striking of all is their invention of Noah's fourth son, born in the ark, from whom they claimed special descent. The author carefully studies a range of texts against their historical background, and discusses shifting emphases in the way the Flood was interpreted for Anglo-Saxon audiences. The book concludes with a discussion of Beowulf, where the Flood myth constitutes a sustained metaphor across the poem, and the relationship is explored between its presentation of the myth and that found in other Anglo-Saxon texts."--Dust jacket.

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Daniel Anlezark is Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Durham.

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