By Clare A. Lees

ISBN-10: 0708321836

ISBN-13: 9780708321836

ISBN-10: 0708322328

ISBN-13: 9780708322321

First released in 2001, Double brokers was the 1st book-length examine of ladies in Anglo-Saxon written tradition that took at the insights supplied by way of modern serious and feminist idea, and it speedy verified itself as a customary. Now on hand back, it complicates the exclusion of ladies from the ancient checklist of Anglo-Saxon England through tackling the deeper questions at the back of how the female is modeled, used, and made metaphoric in Anglo-Saxon texts, even if the ladies themselves are absent.

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Extra info for Double Agents: Women and Clerical Culture in Anglo-Saxon England (University of Wales Press - Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages)

Example text

Although the best-known dream in the narrative of Hild and Cædmon is Cædmon’s, it is by no means the only one. Hild’s life includes three dreams, beginning with Breguswith’s, which predicts her daughter’s exemplary life: This was bound to happen in fulfilment of the dream which her mother Breguswith had during the child’s infancy. While her husband Hereric was living in exile under the British king, Cerdic, where he was poisoned, Breguswith had a dream that he was suddenly taken away, and though she searched most earnestly for him, no trace of him could be found anywhere.

Breguswith by contrast, in the role of the soon-to-be mother Mary, is produced in the service of familiar hagiographical convention. 17 Maternity does keep circling sacred narratives. Conventions are products of processes of naturalization; it is easy enough to read Breguswith’s dream as mere hagiographical convention. Whence, perhaps, the fact that neither Bede, nor the Old English translator, nor subsequent readers have registered the unfamiliar in Breguswith’s dream. But there is more than a touch of the uncanny about the dream: the maternal Breguswith looks under her garment (‘sub ueste’) and finds a symbolically female object – a necklace – in a blaze of light.

Although, as we have already said, maternity seems to be inescapably evoked by this narrative, the myth of origins turns out to be an ideological myth of masculinism. Where the historian is frustrated by the paucity of evidence, the literary critic has a field-day. To judge both from the regular critical output on the story and the Hymn and from the number of times the Hymn has been anthologized, Bede’s story of Cædmon and his poem is a critical bestseller. The attractions are self-evident. The structure of Bede’s story resembles mythical accounts of the beginnings of poetry from different cultures (Scandinavian, for example) to add to his mythical story of Hengest and Horsa and the origins of the Anglo-Saxons (EH 1.

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Double Agents: Women and Clerical Culture in Anglo-Saxon England (University of Wales Press - Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages) by Clare A. Lees


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