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Boredom, Brevity And Last Things: Ælfrics Style And The Politics Of Time

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the relationship between Ælfric's well-known insistence upon brevity and another of his relentless concerns, the impending 'last days' of the world, and in part suggests that Ælfric's attention to last things does not denigrate worldly experience, but rather fills and intensifies it, charging it with drama and expectation. Indeed, like the inherent tension within an alliterative line, it contracts time, making possible a grasp upon one's own existence as Christian narrative in a potentially overwhelming temporal flow. The author, in working to shape an alert, theologically orthodox audience, proposes that Ælfric cultivated a temporality of style that merged with the temporality of his eschatology, and the result is a balanced politics of time. Ælfric's concern with brevity and boredom pertains especially to the needs and limitations of the 'unlearned', a point he repeatedly emphasizes in his Latin and English prefaces and in his homilies.

Keywords: Ælfric; boredom; brevity; time



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