Beowulf ctd.

I am listening to a live transmission of Lohengrin from Bayreuth and there’s a storm raging outside my window as I am writing this post. However, this excerpt is rather peaceful. The order is restored and the first thing you have to do is cleaning up, like in this poem by Wislawa Szymborska. Then they start a feast, Beowulf and his men are presented with a lot of gifts and Hrothgar pays also a compensation for the Geat Grendel ate.

As any handbook of English literature will tell you, one of the most popular devices in OE literature is the litotes, or an ironic understatement. There are many of these throughout Beowulf, e.g. in this segment “It was hardly a shame to be showered with such gifts/In front of the hall-troops” (ll. 1025 – 1026). Is it the national English fondness for understatement signalling itself that early?

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