You can take the girl out of academia…

… but apparently you can’t take academia out of the girl.

So after a thoroughly entertaining discussion at lunch about Scandinavian metal (and death metal), I had the sudden urge to re-read the Völuspá, (because I really enjoy Nordic apocryphal poetry). Seeing as all my ON and OE stuff is in the Bay, I had no choice but to go and (finally) join the library.

Of course, the first thing I did was check out the knitting books (abysmal), before heading off to the Old Nordic section (839.6, FYI). Once I’d snaffled the copy of the Elder Edda I was looking for, I felt like re-reading The Wanderer, The Ruin, and all the Anglo-Saxon elegies… I found myself critiquing the copies of the Old English books they had at the public library… and found the Hamer translation, which isn’t too bad. And then I saw Bēowulf… and felt like re-translating it myself again (my honours OE lecturer should be incredibly pleased with himself round about now), so I had to pick up the Wrenn version (my favourite), and Heaney, because I should probably bring myself to try appreciate his translation.

So my trip to the public library ended up looking something like this…

my default reading setting....

which tells me that academia is still firmly ingrained into my psyche.

And the absolute thrill of reading

“Hwæt! Wē Gār-Dena in geārdagum þēod-cyninga þrym gefrūnon, hū ðā æþelingas ellen fremedon.”
(Lo! We have heard told the greatness of the Spear-Danes in days gone by, the kings of men. How their princes performed deeds of valour).

hasn’t diminished with time. Seeing the manuscript in the British Library will forever be one of the high points of my academic pilgrimage (angels did sing), and the story of the over-proud Geat remains one of my favourite adventures. I can’t wait to dip into Anglo-Saxon again. Tolkien Studies have ruined me for life. Or maybe 9 years of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse did that. I don’t know. But it’s been quietly enjoyable to revisit these pieces without the oppressive weight of my thesis hanging over my head. I was always worried that my love affair with Anglo-Saxon would fade with my PhD thesis, but that hasn’t been the case. What this does tell me,however, is that I’m going to be hard pressed to read popular fiction ever again.

I really am a literature nerd.

In other news my dad’s going to be in the capital for a few days news week on conference. I’m looking forward to showing him my city. The question is… where to go, what to do? (Just like my upcoming trip to Sydney… I’m totally going to the Lindt shop at St Martin’s Place… and I should do Morris & Sons as well, and I can’t not go to Kinokuniya – I find myself plotting the places to revisit. And thanks for the advice ladies. I’m going to have a long hard look at my wips and be judicial. Something impressive to wear and something easy to knit. Excellent.)

I’m going to the Wellington Food Show with my cousin tomorrow. We’re looking forward to it. It’s been surprising because after 13 years and growing up in different parts of the country/world, we actually have quite a bit in common, so it’s not that difficult to have a conversation. And it’s good to have some family around, even if you are very far from home like he is. So it is turning out to be a busy weekend of food, friends, and mad discussions which have led me to realise that my default literature setting really is pre-1066, and that I have no issues with this whatsoever. How every elitist of me. 😉

Places to go, people to meet.
Until next time…

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8 Comments

    1. Whew!

      I’ll always have time to make an exception for bawdy Italian fairy tales though… 😀

      1. The ones with farts! The students think I’m obsessed. And maybe I am. Best fairy tale EVER.

  1. Good to know you still have that interest, and good to find out what you really like. it would only be truly elitist tho if you refused to read anything else ever, just because it wasn’t written before 1066 🙂 good library, by the way.

    1. I don’t know. I’m tempted to take Tolkien’s stance that English died with Shakespeare, and was mortally wounded in 1066. I’m toying with the idea of being proficient at reading dead languages… 😉

      So, you know, just to be otherwise and non-conformist, and all that.

  2. We’re lucky our Library is run by the State Govt and so we have access to all the books. I remember reading Chaucer in English Lit at the TCAE. I just watched The Adventure of English again and there is something wonderful about English. I can’t read the really old stuff though!!

    1. The really old stuff – and Chaucer – it’s really worth seeing if you can find a recording, because it makes so much more sense if you hear it.

      The Adventure of English is a great series though, isn’t it? 🙂

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