Hasped and Hooped and Hirpling

Terry Eagleton

  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
    Faber, 104 pp, £14.99, October 1999, ISBN 0 05 712011 0

Writing in 1887 of the proposal to establish an Anglo-Saxon-based school of English at Oxford, the moral philosopher Thomas Case protested that ‘an English School will grow up, nourishing our language not from the humanity of the Greeks and Romans, but from the savagery of the Goths and Anglo-Saxons. We are about to reverse the Renaissance.’ Not for the first time, an Oxford don had mistaken his university for the spiritual heart of humanity. A century later, a move against Old English in Oxford provoked one apocalyptically minded medievalist to warn of the ‘worldwide demoralisation’ that would inevitably ensue.

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