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Augustine’s Soliloquia in Old English

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Chapter Summary

Augustine's Soliloquia and its vernacular twin in Old English have received little significant attention from the world of scholarship. For Anglo-Saxonists the situation is more fundamental: how can one explain the survival of a vernacular "translation" into Old English, traditionally ascribed to Alfred the Great, which is one of the earliest witnesses to the Latin and indeed the earliest vernacular rendering? Anglo-Saxonists have been wary of this Old English work. This chapter describes the issues and themes embedded in the question and offers suggestions and approaches that can provide a fruitful response. The major topics include manuscript evidence and its problematical features; the structure of the Old English text; the devotional temper of the Soliloquies; and the "Alfredian" flair for metaphor. The also talks about the personal dimension of the Soliloquies; the relation to the Old English Boethius; and the Soliloquies as the first witness to vernacular philosophy.

Keywords: Alfred the Great; Augustine's Soliloquia; Latin; Old English Boethius



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