Treharne Elaine, Living through conquest: the politics of early English, 1020-1220, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012, X-218 p. ISBN: 978-0-19-958526-7
Compte rendu par/Review by : Christopher A. Jones
Date : 6 Feb 2014
The fortunes of English between the later eleventh and early thirteenth centuries have enjoyed increased attention in recent decades, and no one has done more to energize this important area of research than Elaine Treharne. Many scholars of Old and earlier Middle English will be aware of her and others’ pioneering work on the topic, but its rewards and future promise still remain too little appreciated. The reason, in part, is that studies of English through the long twelfth century have often been highly specialized, with emphasis on linguistic and codicological detail. But other barriers, Treharne asserts, are institutional. The record of « late » and « transitional » Old English consists largely (but by no means exclusively) of anonymous adaptations of earlier homiletic prose by the likes of Aelfric and Archbishop Wulfstan, and these materials, usually perceived as derivative, tend to fall through the cracks of modern scholarship and curricula. Literary histories have therefore often dismissed as unoriginal and backward-looking a substantial body of English vernacular writing extant from the Norman Conquest down to the reigns of Henry II and his sons.