I have just posted a new draft of the Oakley chapter/short story that tries to account for the Durham A.IV.19 colophon and memorandum Aldred wrote. This revision has taken a great deal of time, hence the silence in recent posts, also occasioned by other projects. A recent presentation I gave on Beowulf at a children’s literature conference for teachers and writers was great fun and stimulated ideas for using Beowulf in my fall class. I also gained some writing inspiration from the authors present.
For those of you who read the first draft and remember it, this one is quite different in the framing, but the dream-vision and colophon-writing remain pretty much the same. The landscape, geographic and political, draws on charter evidence. I have included more reflections on religious reform. Most of all, Aldred’s personality–his struggles with pride–come through more.
I would appreciate feedback from Anglo-Saxon or tenth century experts as well as fiction authors and readers. Some areas I am wrestling with include:
- Direct speech: trying to use Old English based words when the speech would have been in Old English; more Latiny when the provost and bishop discourse.
- St. Swithun as a foil to St. Cuthbert: the Winchester cult of St. Swithun officially begins in 971 with his translation, but the stories (apocryphal or not) must have begun in 970, I think. Michael Lapidge’s über-volume on the Cult of St. Swithun is a huge help.
- The monastic reform movement: how much tension was there and what would the Northumbrians have felt about it?
- Known bigwigs like King Edgar: how to represent them in a fictional setting is tricky.
- Charter evidence: have I got the signing details right?
Some things I may pursue:
- Bring in some of the other charter signers and political figures.
- Develop an encounter with Abbess Herleva of Shaftesbury.
- Take them to Winchester, go across the bridge Swithun built.