|Map of Medieval Briton.|
You, my dedicated reader, surely know what I am muttering about: you've been through high school, perhaps even completed an undergraduate degree or above. You remember the struggle of learning, however half-heatedly it may or may not have been, of rote memorization of a foreign tongue; German, Spanish, French, maybe Latin, Mandarin Chinese or Japanese... the tears, frustrations, and lows of despair, especially after the moment when you earned a failing grade on a test you funneled an actual modicum of effort in an attempt to conquer!
|Personally, this has never worked for me, even during my brief stint when attempting to learn Mandarin.|
So, what I am about yo rant to you about will be well trodden territory: I have begun labor on teaching myself Anglo-Saxon, the ancient tongue of early Medieval Briton.
Well met, fellow traveler!
But, I have only just begun; you see, though I have started on the path toward fluency in the Anglo-Saxon-- Old English-- tongue, I do not yet have the violent pulsations of an angst ridden adolescent running through my veins (that will come later, if at all). Why? Because I am excited.
|Not me. But, maybe someday, if I study enough and you replace 'teen' with 'academic.'|
Tonight marks the beginning of a path of research which I have chosen. Medieval literature, society, culture, Old English (and its accompanying linguistics)... is all something I have selected for myself.
Previously, you see, I was studying Victorian literature. Although I still possess a lot of love for the period, it was a literary period that I had, more or less, simply fallen-- really tripped-- into studying; as I was taking classes which fulfilled specific course requirements, and as I inadvertently wrote high quality papers for those classes which later would be used for symposium presentations, I waded deeper and deeper into a artistic pool that I felt only tenuously tethered. Some months ago, though, I gained a spark of interest for Medieval society as part of me felt that I could accomplish more in this fascinating lacuna than in the heavily contested field of Victorian studies. Hence my present situation.
|A comic illustration of the effect that Victorian literature can have on students. (Image copyright to original author and illustrator)|
Launching me forward toward this triumphant new drawn (how lordly and poetic!) is two texts. Neither is the end all text which will provide mastery in a the field, nor are the texts particularly challenging for people with prior knowledge of the subject, but for a beginner like me, I feel they are sound places to tally forth.
The first book is John Blair's The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction (2000). The second is Mark Atherton's Teach Yourself: Complete Old English (2010).
While the former focuses on providing an overview of Anglo-Saxon society and the history surrounding such a society and culture, the latter is purely focused on language acquisition (though, it does provide some culture insights into how the example texts' production was influenced). Since I have only just begun using each tool, I am pleased with the authors' voice and style, how it is used in their stated goals of content comprehension.
So, to wrap up before I start to meander, though I am only going to be able to devote maybe a couple of hours a day to these studies, I intend on perusing this course of study for years to come. Inch by metaphorical inch, I hope to glean some higher truths about the field. Someday, maybe, I will be able to contribute something lasting. But, until then, I will just be pleased with finally initiating that journey of a thousand miles. It starts with just a single step, after all.