Say What I Am Called: The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book & the Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition
Published: November 2019© 2009
328 Pages, 5.90 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
Perhaps the most enigmatic cultural artifacts that survive from the Anglo-Saxon period are the Old English riddle poems that were preserved in the tenth century Exeter Book manuscript. Clever, challenging, and notoriously obscure, the riddles have fascinated readers for centuries and provided crucial insight into the period. In Say What I Am Called, Dieter Bitterli takes a fresh look at the riddles by examining them in the context of earlier Anglo-Latin riddles. Bitterli argues that there is a vigorous common tradition between Anglo-Latin and Old English riddles and details how the contents of the Exeter Book emulate and reassess their Latin predecessors while also expanding their literary and formal conventions. The book also considers the ways in which convention and content relate to writing in a vernacular language. A rich and illuminating work that is as intriguing as the riddles themselves, Say What I Am Called is a rewarding study of some of the most interesting works from the Anglo-Saxon period.
‘Say What I am Called is a perpetually engaging book, informed by much knowledge, and with much to say about the Anglo-Saxon riddle tradition.’ Robert Gotz, The Journal of Medieval Latin, vol 21:2011
'Say What I Am Called is an engaging work of considerable erudition. Dieter Bitterli's work reveals that the dialogue going on between the Old English and Latin riddles is much more extensive and multi-layered than has been previously thought, and that the conversation wasn't at all one-sided: the Old English riddles aren't simply cleverly adapting Latin tropes; they also accept—are made possible by—many of the Latin riddle's techniques and assumptions.' Thomas Klein, Department of English and Philosophy, Idaho State University