Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/11588
Beowulf. A heroic tale of fact or fiction?
The Old English epic Beowulf is under discussion in this essay and the idea of the truth embedded in the poem. As no concrete evidence exists on the provenance of the poem, its authorship, date or truth of content, all statements from published writers on the subject are mere conjectures. Presented is a detailed account of the manuscript from when the 16th century scholar Lawrence Nowell handled it, to the time it came into the possession of Sir Robert Cotton in the late 17th century. It is now housed in the Cotton Collection in the British Library. Plot structures are discussed with references to Aristotle, Vladimir Propp and Christopher Booker. Debates on the age, composition, formulaic transmission and writing are discussed with reference to the views of John D. Niles, Robert E. Bjork, Kevin S. Kiernan, Julius Zupitza, Seamus Heaney, Marijane Osborn and others. The Beowulf versions of Thorkelin, Klaeber and Tolkien are discussed. Finally we take a brief look at the Christian and Pagan content in the poem, along with archaeological evidence connected to the poem.