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The Ethnography of Reading$
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Jonathan Boyarin

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780520079557

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520079557.001.0001

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The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England

The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England

(p.58) Four The Cultural Construction of Reading in Anglo-Saxon England
The Ethnography of Reading

Jonathan Boyarin

University of California Press

To move from Augustine's Confessions to the Old English ræd and rædan means encountering quite different conventions of culture, language, and literacy. This chapter suggests that it becomes easier to make this move if one recognizes that these words and their cognate forms in other Indo-European languages first denoted the act of giving counsel through speech. Meanwhile, the significance of rædan can be measured both by its complex etymology and by the range of its primary meanings, because together they establish that it denoted a variety of important functions within Anglo-Saxon culture.

Keywords:   Augustine, Confessions, ræd, Indo-European languages, Anglo-Saxon culture, ædan

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