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Arts of DyingLiterature and Finitude in Medieval England$
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D. Vance Smith

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226640853

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226641041.001.0001

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The Old English Grammar of the Soul

The Old English Grammar of the Soul

(p.29) Chapter Two The Old English Grammar of the Soul
Arts of Dying

D. Vance Smith

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the relation between death and the voice in Old English poetry and pedagogical texts, especially Aelfric's Grammar and Colloquies and two versions of a debate between the body and the soul. The division of the soul from the body at death is framed in terms similar to the division of being into constituent categories, and the partition of language into its smallest component. The relation between these elements and the meaning of which they are part is like the relation of the vox to the body, a cryptic figure like the riddle.

Keywords:   riddle, Aelfric, Old English poetry, medieval grammar, pedagogy

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