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Book Chapter

Publication Date



Bucknell UP (Associated University Press)


This essay argues that a fuller understanding of some cultural systems contributing to medieval spirituality in the early middle ages, transmitted to us for the most part through patristic writings, opens up different possibilities for late 20th-century readers' interpretation of the cycles and change in Beowulf, especially the poem's ending. Competing with the apocalyptic view is the possibility that dramatic reversals continue--for better and for worse--beyond Beowulf's death, beyond the end of the poem, beyond the poet's death, the audience's death, and the reader's death--until the end of time--in ways that seem meaningless unless readers provide their own understanding of the patterns.

Chapter of

Manuscript, Narrative, Lexicon: Essays on Literary and Cultural Transmission in Honor of Whitney F. Bolton


Robert Boenig, Kathleen Davis


Reprinted by permission of the author and Associated University Presses.



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