Date: May 2007
Creator: Culver, Jennifer
Description: While many riddles exist in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book containing female characters, both as actual human females and personified objects and aspects of nature, few scholars have discussed how the anthropomorphized “females” of the riddles challenge and broaden more conventional portrayals of what it meant to be “female” in Anglo-Saxon literature. True understanding of these riddles, however, comes only with this broader view of female, a view including a mixture of ferocity and nobility of purpose and character very reminiscent of the valkyrie (OE wælcyrige), a figure mentioned only slightly in Anglo-Saxon literature, but one who deserves more prominence, particularly when evaluating the riddles of the Exeter Book and two poems textually close to the riddles, The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, the only two poems with a female voice in the entire Old English corpus. Riddles represent culture from a unique angle. Because of their heavy dependence upon metaphor as a vehicle or disguise for the true subject of the riddle, the poet must employ a metaphor with similar characteristics to the true riddle subject, or the tenor of the riddle. As the riddle progresses, similarities between the vehicle and the tenor are listed for the reader. Within ...
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