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Robert Stanton

The Exeter Book riddles present a symphony of acoustic effects, deploying a multitude of linguistic resources to reflect aesthetically on the metaphysical relationship, long examined by philosophers and grammarians, between sounds, speech, concepts, and subjects and objects both animate and inanimate. 1 This chapter discusses the different ways that sounds signify in these riddles, especially the sensory, cognitive, and culturally formed categories through which sound effects evoke the rhythms and textures of natural phenomena, technologically produced

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Rafał Borysławski

discussion of transformative fear in three Exeter Book riddles: XII Hund Heafda (R.86), solved as ‘One-Eyed Seller of Garlic’; Gryrelic Hleahtor (R.33), solved as ‘Iceberg’; and Nama Min is Mære (R.26), solved as ‘Bible’. Riddles and memory There are several dimensions in which riddles are related to memory, and these may have both narrative and mnemotechnic aspects. First is the sense of memory as the experience of remembering: if our memory of something or someone is the only presence of what is tangibly absent, then Old English riddles exemplify this

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Lindy Brady

4 •• The ‘dark Welsh’ as slaves and slave raiders in Exeter Book riddles 52 and 721 The previous chapter argued that the Latin and vernacular Lives of Saint Guthlac show a mixed Anglo-Welsh culture among warrior elites in the borderlands. This conceptualisation of the borderlands was not limited to the learned clerics responsible for Anglo-Saxon hagiography. More popular vernacular literary tradition reflected some of the same ideas. A group of Old English riddles whose setting is the Welsh mearc (march or boundary) depict a common culture of the borderlands in

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Francesca Brooks

In her 2001 study on Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England , Juliet Fleming argues that ‘[t]o contemplate a song of pearl, or a “poysee” “made of letters of fine gold” […] is to be unable to distinguish between a poem, a jewel, an acoustical structure and a feat of embroidery’. 1 This chapter explores a shared interest in the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book in materially crafted artefacts and aurally crafted riddle poems. More specifically, this chapter explores a group of the Exeter Book riddles that share a semantic and

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Incongruity in Feþegeorn (R.31)
Jonathan Wilcox

Humour theory is thriving these days. In such disciplines as cognitive psychology, sociology, philosophy, political science, cultural studies, and linguistics, in the practice of stand-up, cartooning, and clowning, scholars and practitioners are attempting to define just what constitutes humour and how it is created. 1 In this chapter, I will provide a brief introduction to humour theory in order to address the question of what makes the Exeter Book riddles funny. I will ground my analysis in a reading of Feþegeorn (R.31), which has been relatively

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
James Paz

59 2 The ‘thingness’ of time in the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book and Aldhelm’s Latin enigmata What do we make of the transformation of things over time? Maybe one also ought to ask what things make of us over time: how are human beings transformed by the things that carry the traces of our voices and our bodies when we are gone? The Old English and Anglo-​Latin riddling traditions give voice to things, as if they could answer such a question. Yet, for the most part, criticism has focused on the rhetorical device of prosopopoeia, whereby the human

in Nonhuman voices in Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture
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.

Megan Cavell
Jennifer Neville
, and
Victoria Symons

his debt to literary tradition and his own literary ambitions. This preface is valuable on a number of counts. It is rare to have such a mission statement attached to any early medieval literary collection. No comparable reading context or textual framework exists for the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book , for example. But it also tells us something about how these riddles work. Aldhelm sings the praises not only of the Christian God, but also of his prophet Moses, Job the soldier, and the psalmist David, alongside references to Castalian nymphs and the peaks

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
Hybridity of genre in an Exeter Book riddle
Lori Ann Garner

‘Let’s get you to a healer’. ‘Not this time, old friend’. (Wiglaf and Beowulf, Beowulf , 2007) ‘Frofre ne wene, þæt me geoc cyme        guðgewinnes …’ [‘I do not expect comfort, that relief from toil of war might come to me …’] (Exeter Book riddle) In Robert Zemeckis’s 2007 film adaptation of

in Hybrid healing
Pirkko A. Koppinen

informed by the notion that materiality—including that of fire—is a ‘cultural process’. 4 I argue that concentrating on the function and sensory experience of materiality in literature can provide new insights and interpretations of texts and, in this case, lead to an unexpected new solution to one of the Exeter Book riddles. Legbysig, Ligbysig , and the accepted solution, ‘tree’ The riddle exists as two separate texts in the manuscript, Legbysig and Ligbysig . Liuzza notes that ‘the variations in the two texts of Riddle 30 are individually minor differences

in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition