Intermezzo: Weiskott's essay "Making Beowulf Scream: Exclamation and the Punctuation of Old English Poetry"

This subject primarily relates to the metatext of the narratives in the Orb Zero project, but the essay mixes interesting grammatical information, a quite funny style and also indirectly reflects differences in mentality over cultural epochs.

Basically, if you are not aware, editors of Beowulf have inconsistently introduced punctuation into the poem, which was written prior to its existence. Weiskott analyzes the inclusion and subsequent re-removal of the exclamation point.

Weiskott's analysis shows that during the romantic era, editors created what he calls frenetic texts littered with exclamation points (26-7). Although Weiskott does not specifically mention this, the period of time in which editions sprinkled with the most exclamation points coincided precisely with this era, and once we reach the modern era, Beowulf became "less chipper" (27).

Weiskott also notes a cultural difference exhibited through the exclamation point: The speech of the queen, the only woman who speaks in Beowulf, is granted a more commanding position through the use of imperatives and exclamation marks in the German edition (edited by Grein). By comparison, "the English-speaking editors favor a humbler queen, whose imperatives sound more like requests than demands" and "neither Chambers, nor Mitchell and Irvine, nor Fulk, Bjork, and Niles assign any exclamations to Wealhpeow," although exclamation points accompany the speech of other characters (36)

Reference material:

Weikott, Eric. "Making Beowulf Scream: Exclamation and the Punctuation of Old English Poetry." The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Vol. 111, No. 1 (January 2012). 25-41.
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