The Dynastic Drama of "Beowulf"
The Dynastic Drama of Beowulf (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), unravels the web of Scandinavian royal legends known to the original audience of Beowulf. Arguing that this material is central to the meaning of the poem, it shows that the hero’s fights against monsters can only be truly understood within a dynastic context. The book offers a new interpretation of the work’s structure based on the principle of the dynastic life-cycle and provides explanations for features of the poem that have never been satisfactorily explained, most famously its many digressions and episodes. Highlighting the work’s originality, it proposes that the poet created a fictionalized monster-slaying hero and inserted him into royal legend in order to dramatise moments of dynastic crisis. It also brings into focus the poet’s debt to biblical paradigms of kingship and shows how the Anglo-Saxons came to read Beowulf as their own Book of Kings.
Beowulf, Kingship, Old English Literature, Anglo-Saxon England