I have been reading several of Rodrigues’ booklet with Anglo-Saxon texts in translation. Judging the title I expected this to be another such one. Inspite of that title, the “critical essays” are not about other scholars’ works about Anglo-Saxon texts. Rodrigues writes about poetry of Salvador Espriu and Robert Graves, Catalan poetry, Galician poetry, humour in Indian literature and more. The Anglo-Saxon essays are of course about “The Dream Of The Rood” and “Cyn(e)wulf” and Some modern English verse rendings of The Ruin (both available in other booklets) and one about “Margaret of Antioch – pseudo-saint and martyr”. Not a very interesting booklet for me… 1998 Llanarch, isbn 1861430639
Initially this was the first publications in Rodrigues’ series of Anglo-Saxon texts rendered into modern English. He completely reworked the booklet in 1998. As the title says, this booklet is filled with the famous Anglo-Saxon riddles, many of which come from the Exeter Book. I find this one of the least interesting books in the series. The texts are short, most of them not too interesting and worst of all, I do not understand the larger part of the riddles, not even with the proposed answers that Rodrigues found among different authors (up to 10 for one riddle). There is some nice word-play to be found here and there and it is amusing that one author gives the sollution “phallus” for almost every riddle. Perhaps a funny book to annoy people. I will quote one riddle that I like to give you an idea. There are 64 more of these, shorter and longer.
A moth devoured words. That seemed to me
a curious fate, when I heard of that wonder,
that the worm swallowed up a certain man’s song,
a thief in the darkness filched the fine saying
and strong man’s support. The thievish guest was
no whit | the wiser, though he swallowed words.
Next in the series of Rodrigues booklets is one with four poems, together forming an Anglo-Saxon Physiologus or Bestiary. First there is a long and very nice poem about the Phoenix with a thick religious undertone. The other poems are about the lovely panther, the dreadfull whale and two halve lines about the partridge. In the introduction Rodrigues says that the poems are very much alike more southern Physiologi so the appendices this time are Lactanius’ Carmen de ave phoenice, Ambrose’s Hexameron (the part about the Phoenix), another Anglo-Saxon text about the Phoenix (Vespasian) and two Latin Physiologi of Carmody. All texts, so also the Latin ones, are printed on the left pages in the original language and on the right in modern English. Because of the Exeter Book version of the Phoenix, this is one of the more enjoyable compilation of Anglo-Saxon texts.
1996 Llanerch, isbn 1861430223
The term ‘elegy’ used to describe a group of fairly short poems in the Exeter Book and certain other passages from longer works, was a nineteenth-century invention, since the poems and passages it collectively describes are neither ‘elegies’ nor ‘elegiac’ in the classical sense of composition in the elegiac metre nor in the tradition of later English pastoral elegy.
Rodrigues apparantly did not just try to publish the wealth of Anglo-Saxon texts, but rather present them thematically. There is an overlap in texts between this title and the earlier reviewed Anglo-Saxon Verse Charms, Maxims & Heroic Legends. After saying why the texts presented can still be called “elegiac” Rodrigues names the texts that he presents in this little (123 p.) book: The Wanderer, The Seafearer, The Riming Poem, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament, Resignation, The Husband’s Message, and The Ruin. A few other texts are added and the appendix gives “some modern English verse rendering of The Ruin” in which Rodrigues writes about the difficulties of translating (ancient) poetry and the different sollutions that ‘translators’ come up with. This time the book is filled with some longer poetical texts of which I only enjoyed Resignation which is a call to God of a person who seems resently deceased and looks back at his life. The texts are obviously laments. Of course there is a lengthy introduction again and at the end a gigantic bibliography.
1994 Llanarch, isbn 1897853319
In July last year I reviewed another little book of Rodrigues. Already then I planned to get me some more of these books, so a while ago I found five of them from the same bookshop. The text looks like it is made with an electrical typewriter and the only ‘luxery’ is plastic around the simple, soft cover. Rodrigues made a whole range of these Anglo-Saxon textbooks. The booklets have a large variety in price, so look around well when you want to get them. They read rapidly. The current title has a lengthy and slightly too scholarly introduction, too detailed to be really interesting for a layman. The texts themselves are again printed in the original language of the left and in translation on the right. What we have here are runic verse inscriptions (the most famous that from the “Franks casket” and the Ruthwell cross), poems that contain runes, riddles, “the husband’s message”, “the first dialogue of Solomon and Saturn” and the Anglo-Saxon rune poem. For convenience sake Rodrigues also included the Norse and Icelandic rune poems. At the end there are quite a few illustrations of a photocopy quality.
Again a nice little book and an easy way to get some Anglo-Saxon material in your collection. When the other booklets read as quickly as this one, you can expect some more similar reviews soon.
1992 Llanerch, isbn 0947992944
I stumbled upon this nice little book by Rodrigues which opens with an introduction into Anglo-Saxon literature and then information about the texts featured. The texts themselves are printed in the original language on the left pages and translated on the right. As the title suggests the book contains heroic legends, such as of course Beowulf, but also the Finnesburg fragment, Wolf And Eadwacer, Widsith, Waldere and Deor, complete or a fragment. Some of the “maxims” or “gnomic verses” are printed (from the collections “Maxims I” and “Maxims II”) and a all twelve “metrical charms” (think about “The Nine Herbs Charm”, “Against A Dwarf” or “Against A Wen”). Personally I find the maxims and charms a lot more interesting than the heroic legends, but in both cases it is nice to be able to see the original texts next to a translation. It seems that Rodrigues published more of these little books, as there is a a lot more Anglo-Saxon material available, so I might go and look for these other booklets too. A tip for when you are interested in this one: look around a bit before ordering it. I am sure I did not pay the $ 45,- that Amazon.com has this book listed for. Amazon UK has it for Â£ 8,-, that is more like it. Other antiquarian websites have it for about â‚¬ 12,-. 1993 Llanerch, isbn 1861430876