Beowulf: Facsimile of British Museum MS. Cotton Vitellius A xv with a transliteration (Early English Text Society)

This Beowulf facsimile is worth the cost for any serious Anglo-Saxon scholar. I would advise anyone interested to do whatever it takes to save up for a copy—sell your organs for quick cash, charge freshmen exorbitant prices to write their composition papers, join a band of mercenaries, or whatever the spirit of the Vikings moves you to do. I’m always wary of buying facsimiles on the internet without having had a chance to preview the book since many come with warnings that the reproduction may be of poor quality. However, this is never a concern with the Early English Text Society. The EETS has been producing works of great academic value since 1864, so they’re my first source for any of my scholarly needs.

The EETS facsimile of Beowulf is exactly what it sounds like. Each surviving page of the Beowulf manuscript has been carefully scanned and reproduced in a high-quality print. Facing each page is a transliteration that helps overcome the difficulties of reading scribal handwriting (a daunting task for the uninitiated) with footnotes explaining the transliteration where necessary. The Beowulf facsimile is only available in hardcover, but it is published with high-quality binding and paper that gives off a smell to make English majors swoon. It is a marvelous production.

For any new to Beowulf, be warned: this is not the book for leisure reading. The introduction is about reproducing the manuscript, not about reading the poem. The footnotes are only about reconstructing damaged words or letters. It has no scholarly articles, nothing to help the reader understand Beowulf. This EETS facsimile attempts to make up for the fact that only 1 manuscript of Beowulf exists and anyone who is not a lauded scholar will probably not be getting a look at it.


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Beowulf: Facsimile of British Museum MS. Cotton Vitellius A xv with a transliteration (Early English Text Society) — 1 Comment

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