Hapax legomena as poetic devices in the Old English Andreas
Stiles, Laura Shevaun
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The Old English poem Andreas has prompted more than its share of critical debate, much of it centering around the poem's literary quality. Scholars have found fault with the poem for what has been perceived as inapposite phrasing; a common conception is that the Andreas poet attempted to make his verse sound elevated or impressive, with little apparent understanding of the appropriate poetic uses of the phrases he employed. The dissertation proposes a reassessment of the poem and the poet's skill through an examination of the 160 hapax legomena appearing in it. Hapax legomena are words that appear only once in the Old English corpus. Close analysis reveals that in Andreas, hapax legomena concisely express poetic meaning through a complex confluence of cultural, literary, and linguistic influences in Anglo-Saxon poetry. These disparate influences unite briefly in the hapax legomenon, producing a new means of expression expanding the range of existing traditional poetic diction. As a result, a picture of the Andreas poet emerges as a creative, imaginative, and innovative scop who performed the complex cultural and artistic act of drawing both on the vocabulary of his traditional poetic inheritance and on the newer elements of the Christian story.|Chapter One presents the critical reception of Andreas and the relevance of a study of the hapax legomena appearing in the poem. Chapter Two outlines the contact of cultures that took place in Anglo-Saxon England and argues that the education of a poet could result in a heightened awareness of the history and formation of words and readiness to experiment with the creation of new ones. Chapter Three demonstrates the poet's deliberate creation and placement of hapax legomena; as a result, these words play a significant role in the interpretation of the poem, as they depict key images, concepts, and themes. Chapter Four further explores how hapax legomena provide the audience clues for an exegetical reading of the poem's scenes and characters. Chapter Five examines how the poem's hapax legomena mirror the syncretism of Anglo-Saxon culture.