The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England

Jonathan Boyarin

in The Ethnography of Reading

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 1993 | ISBN: 9780520079557
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913431 | DOI:
The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England

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To move from Augustine's Confessions to the Old English ræd and rædan means encountering quite different conventions of culture, language, and literacy. This chapter suggests that it becomes easier to make this move if one recognizes that these words and their cognate forms in other Indo-European languages first denoted the act of giving counsel through speech. Meanwhile, the significance of rædan can be measured both by its complex etymology and by the range of its primary meanings, because together they establish that it denoted a variety of important functions within Anglo-Saxon culture.

Keywords: Augustine; Confessions; ræd; Indo-European languages; Anglo-Saxon culture; ædan

Chapter.  10048 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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