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Scribal errors of proper names in the Beowulf manuscript

  • Leonard Neidorf (a1)

Scribal errors involving proper names appear throughout the manuscript of Beowulf. The scribes misrecognized names, converted them into common nouns of similar appearance, and spaced them into units that reflect incomprehension. This study assesses the implications of these errors for the engagement and awareness of the scribes, then considers their bearing on the dating and editing of Beowulf. The proper name errors reveal that the scribes were unfamiliar with the heroic-legendary traditions constituting Beowulf. The collective presence of these errors supports the probability that the extant manuscript of Beowulf is a copy of a centuries-old poem, not of a recent composition.

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Anglo-Saxon England
  • ISSN: 0263-6751
  • EISSN: 1474-0532
  • URL: /core/journals/anglo-saxon-england
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