Wednesday 16 May 2012

The Life of Anskar (British Academy Post-docs Part I)

We are delighted that two members of the Department have recently been awarded British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowships, a particular achievement given the stiff competition for awards this year. In this first post, Dr Paul Gazzoli outlines his proposed research project:

Rimbert's Life of Anskar is our most important document of life in Viking-Age Scandinavia. Unlike most of our written evidence for the period, which was either written centuries later or by people who had never been to Scandinavia, both the subject and the author of the life had spent time in Denmark and Sweden as missionaries. It is also unusual as a piece of hagiography as it devotes a good deal of space to describing the workings of pagan societies without recourse to the normal stereotypes. Despite this, the Life of Anskar has not received the attention it merits, a situation not helped by an old and inaccurate English translation and an edition of the Latin text that does not give enough attention to the different versions of the Life. A falsified version was produced around 1100 at Bremen for political reasons, and it was this version that was known in Germany and Scandinavia for the rest of the middle ages. The chief aim of my research will be to produce a new edition with a full translation and commentary encompassing not only the original Life but also its later development. This new edition will give more attention than the previous one (published in 1884) to the version of the Life produced around 1100. The edition will be accompanied by a new edition of the anonymous Life of Rimbert (again last edited in 1884 and never translated into English).

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