Vainglory (Old English poem)

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Vainglory is the title given to an Old English gnomic or homiletic poem of eighty-four lines, preserved in the Exeter Book. The precise date of composition is unknown, but the fact of its preservation in a late tenth-century manuscript gives us an approximate terminus ante quem. The poem is structured around a comparison of two basic opposites of human conduct; on the one hand, the proud man, who “is the devil's child, enwreathed in flesh” (biþ feondes bearn / flæsce bifongen), and, on the other hand, the virtuous man, characterised as "God’s own son" (godes agen bearn).

Editions and translations[edit]

  • Shippey, T. A. (ed. and tr.) (1976) Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English. Cambridge: U. P.; pp. 54-57.
  • Pickford, T. E. (ed.) (1974) "An edition of ’Vainglory" in: Parergon; 10 (1974); pp. 1-40.
  • Krapp, G.P., and Dobbie, E. V. K. (eds.) (1936) The Exeter Book. (Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records; 3.) New York: Columbia U. P.

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Clover, Carol J. (1980) "The Germanic Context of the Unferth Episode" in: Speculum; 55.3 (1980): pp. 444-68: pp. 448-49.
  • Huppé, Bernard F. (1970) The Web of Words: structural analyses of the Old English poems "Vainglory", "The Wonder of Creation", "The Dream of the Rood" and "Judith" Albany: State University of New York Press
  • McKinnell, John (1991) "A Farewell to Old English Elegy: the case of Vainglory" in: Parergon 9.2 (1991); pp. 67-89.
  • Regan, Catherine A. (1970) "Patristic Psychology in the Old English Vainglory" in: Traditio; 26 (1970); pp. 324-35.
  • Trahern, Joseph B. (1975) "Caesarius, Chrodegang, and the Old English Vainglory" in: Gesellschaft, Kultur, Literatur: Beiträge Luitpold Wallach gewidmet, ed. Karl Bosl. (Monographien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters; 2.) Stuttgart pp. 167-78.

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