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Literary perspectives on the case for Beowulf's rowing adventure with Breca
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2009 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Tradition in the study of Beowulf has held that the discussion between Beowulf and Unferth regarding Beowulf’s victory over Breca concerns a swimming competition. However, some scholars have suggested that this section refers to a rowing or sailing adventure, due to some ambiguity in the language of the passage. Linguistic evidence for the rowing interpretation, mostly from the 1970's, is well-known but has been neither accepted by editors nor effectively countered by subsequent scholarship. By applying literary, dramatic and cultural theoretical principles to the two alternative explanations it became apparent that the rowing interpretation of the Breca episode is more appropriate within the literary and social context of Beowulf. This more-or-less ambiguous episode has been modified to fit Beowulf into a folk-tale ethos in which scholarship no longer admits it has a place. This nineteenth-century interpretation has now passed out of favour, but recent scholarship has remained committed a traditional interpretation of the Breca episode which now is clearly incongruous.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. , 22 p.
Keyword [en]
Beowulf, Breca, rowing, swimming, adventure, Baltic, Anglo-Saxon, Old English, Unferth, Nicor, Nicera
National Category
General Literature Studies Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-50217OAI: diva2:380649
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-08-18 Created: 2010-12-21 Last updated: 2011-08-18Bibliographically approved

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