Old English, Middle English and Shakespeare


Have many of you read Old English or Middle English texts? How do you find reading such old texts? Have you read texts from the Old English Period in translation into modern English? What kind of texts from these eras are you acquainted with (literary works or scientific texts [scientific texts especially from the Middle English period are widely available])?

What about reading William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets? Would anyone be interested in discussing or analysing a particular play or poem?

Best wishes to you all.

I don’t find them problematic, because I could read German, French and Swedish before I tried Old English. I taught the history of English one semester and I did a good deal of reading with the students, especially of Old English, because unless I sat and helped them like that, they would have understood almost nothing. They said the practice helped them in their lit courses.

Yes, some are good, some are not. There is an interesting translation of Beowulf that was done in a similar split meter to the original.

One of the things I found was that some American country songs have what amounts to Old English meter.

I prefer people’s eyewitness accounts of things that were happening at the time.

Hi again, Jamie,

And thanks for your post. It’s nice to know that you’ve taught the history of English: knowing this I can post a question concerning Old or Middle English should I have someting particularly tricky to reflect on.

I’m also very pleased to find a university professor like you here on an ESL forum. I dare say that very few professors, at least older ones, would bother to use forums like this: I would assume that most of them use forums that are targeted for academics.

Best wishes.