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Abstracts: Volume 86, Number 4 (2007)

Caring for the Dead in The Fortunes of Men by Stefan Jurasinski

The Old English poem known as the Fortunes of Men has long been regarded both as an example of the tradition of gnomic verse and as a repository of pre-Christian ideas. Thus scholarship has rarely if ever attributed to Fortunes either the thematic unity assumed for other Old English lyric poems or a connection to the post-conversion Anglo-Saxon world. The present essay argues that Old English pastoral texts, late antique doctrines of bodily resurrection, and archaeological evidence concerning Anglo-Saxon burial customs reveal much about the poem’s initial catalog of deaths and misfortunes. Seeing Fortunes in light of its more immediate historical context, it is suggested, allows for greater possibilities of formal coherence than have been customarily assumed for this poem.

The Mimesis of Time in Hamletby Eric P. Levy

"The Mimesis of Time in Hamlet" is the first study of the play to base its inquiry on the conceptual complexity of time itself--the nexus of concepts constituting the very notion of time. Central to this analysis is the bipartite structure of time, its passage or movement construed according to two distinct series. In one series, time is configured as the dimension of changing tense (future to present to past). In the other, time entails the tenseless dimension of permanent succession, whereby events are arrayed in an inviolable sequence according to whether they are earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than each other. Careful examination of these distinct series discloses a level of meaning in Hamlet inaccessible otherwise. The result is an explication of the tragic implications of Hamlet, insofar as they concern temporality and insofar as temporality in turn constitutes a core problem in "the single and peculiar life" as construed in the play.

Locating Byron: Languages, Voices, and Displaced Utterances by Diego Saglia

It is hardly controversial to observe that Byron's life was deeply embedded in questions of place and location. For this poet, place was a palimpsest interweaving past and present stories and identities. Yet at the same time he also perceived and constructed each location as an unstable dimension projected towards other places. Byron's poetics of place and movement may be seen to function through a relentless multiplication of sites, as well as through an oscillation between a strong sense of emplacement and the coincident experience of being propelled towards a multiplicity of other places embedded within one's own initial coordinates. Addressing the familiar notion of Byron's "mobilité," this essay explores the ways in which the poet regularly removes himself and his writings from their initial sites to other destinations, a process that consistently affects his acts of self-presentation, the identities of his characters, and the nature of his writings. It specifically illustrates how the poet employs effects of language and voice to convey this geo-cultural multiplicity and its disorienting effects, as well as to delineate a poetics of place based on displacement.

Translation and Adaptation in Tennyson's Battle of Brunanburh by Michael P. Kuczynski

This article explores Alfred Tennyson's strategies of translation and adaptation in his version of a famous Anglo-Saxon war ode, The Battle of Brunanburh. It concentrates on a particular phrase that has attracted critical opprobrium, Tennyson's rendering of Old English wundun forgrunden as "mangled to morsels." Investigating Tennyson's knowledge of Old English, the article shows that the phrase comes closer than at first appears in sense and tone to the original, and that Tennyson may have derived it from a Middle English poem, The Alliterative Romance of Alexander. Seen in the context of Victorian interest in lexicography, medieval texts, and classical epic, Tennyson's Brunanburh emerges as faithful to its Anglo-Saxon source in its pursuit of one of Tennyson's persistent themes: the conflicts and contradictions of heroism.

Ruskin on His Sexuality: A Lost Source by Van Akin Burd

The holograph of a letter from John Ruskin that his editors decided to omit from their Library Edition of his work (1903-12), probably because of Ruskin's frank comments on his sexuality, has turned up in Japan, and is published here for the first time.