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Words, ideas, interactions

Riddles at work is the first volume to bring together multiple scholarly voices to explore the vibrant, poetic riddle tradition of early medieval England and its neighbours. The chapters in this book present a wide range of traditional and experimental methodologies. They treat the riddles both as individual poems and as parts of a tradition, but, most importantly, they address Latin and Old English riddles side-by-side, bringing together texts that originally developed in conversation with each other but have often been separated in scholarship. The ‘General Introduction’ situates this book in its scholarly context. Part I, ‘Words’, presents philological approaches to early medieval riddles—interpretations rooted in close readings of texts—for riddles work by making readers question what words really mean. While reading carefully may lead to elegant solutions, however, such solutions are not the end of the riddling game. Part II, ‘Ideas’, thus explores how riddles work to make readers think anew about objects, relationships, and experiences, using literary theory to facilitate new approaches. Part III, ‘Interactions’, explores how riddles work through connections with other fields, languages, times, and places. Together, the sixteen chapters reveal that there is no single, right way to read these texts but many productive paths—some explored here, some awaiting future work.

Tracing an insular riddle topos on both sides of the English Channel
Mercedes Salvador-Bello

essential paradox found in the Bern riddle on the same subject: Multiferis omnes dapibus saturare solesco; quadripedem hinc felix ditem me sanxerat aetas esse, tamen pulchris fatim dum uestibus orner, certatim me predones spoliare solescunt, raptis nudata exuuiis mox membra relinquunt. 37 [I am used to satisfying all with plentiful meals; for this reason happy age ordained (that I should be) four-legged and sumptuous. However, when I am sufficiently adorned with beautiful clothes, thieves usually strip me eagerly (and), as soon as my booty has

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Neville Mogford

chapter. Three major riddle collections—or four, if we count the Exeter Book riddles—take great delight in describing various astronomical objects related to time-reckoning and chronometry, such as the moon, stars, and planets: the Enigmata of Aldhelm and Eusebius, and the Bern riddles. All three were written between the beginning of the seventh century and the first half of the eighth, a period in which Irish-authored computistica proliferated widely across early medieval England and the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms. The Bern collection includes sixty

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition