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Richard North

Richard North teaches at University College London. His first book, Pagan Words and Christian Meanings, has just been published by Radopi, Amsterdam.

Grendel gongan

Richard North, 10 October 1991

Not long ago it was a thousand years to the day that the Battle of Maldon was fought against the Danes. On 10 August 991, an English levy, somewhat hastily assembled and placed behind a smaller unit of professional soldiers, faced an army of Viking thugs across a causeway in Essex. That afternoon the English general, Earl Byrhtnoth, made a miscalculation that led to his death and the defeat of his force. Part of his army fled, while the others, so the poet of ‘The Battle of Maldon’ tells us, clustered round their general’s body to avenge his death with their own. An ‘old companion’ urged them to their fate with words which many former students of English might remember as something like ‘ever must he regret it who thinks he can go from this battlegame now.’

Letter

Good Old English

10 October 1991

Valentine Cunningham (Letters, 7 November) has taken exception to my review of the Cambridge Companion to Old English, in which I reminded readers that Old English is the earliest part of the English literary heritage; is not taught in schools; thus needs underwriting in English courses if students are to know the complete extent of the tradition. This safeguard is needed if workaday English departments...

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