Elves in Anglo-Saxon England : matters of belief, health, gender and identity
- Alaric Hall.
- Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK ; Rochester, NY : Boydell Press, 2007.
- Physical description
- xi, 226 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
- Anglo-Saxon studies 8.
- Hall, Alaric.
- Includes bibliographical references (p. 185-219) and index.
Anglo-Saxon elves [Old English 'alfe'] are one of the best attested non-Christian beliefs in early medieval Europe, but current interpretations of the evidence derive directly from outdated nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship. Integrating linguistic and textual approaches into an anthropologically-inspired framework, this book reassesses the full range of evidence. It traces continuities and changes in medieval non-Christian beliefs with a new degree of reliability, from pre-conversion times to the eleventh century and beyond, and uses comparative material from medieval Ireland and Scandinavia to argue for a dynamic relationship between beliefs and society. In particular, it interprets the cultural significance of elves as a cause of illness in medical texts, and provides new insights into the much-discussed Scandinavian magic of 'seidr'. Elf-beliefs, moreover, were connected with Anglo-Saxon constructions of sex and gender; their changing nature provides a rare insight into a fascinating area of early medieval European culture. Shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2007 ALARIC HALL is a fellow of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)
- Publication date
- Anglo-Saxon studies, 1475-2468 ; 8
- 9781843832942 (hbk. : alk. paper)
- 1843832941 (hbk. : alk. paper)
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