© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Husband's Message

The Husband's Message

by Anonymous

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

"The Husband's Message" is an example of prosopopeia, a fancy Greek word to describe a type of personification in which an inanimate object speaks (source). Now, aren't you glad you learned a fancy new word today?

The Exeter Book, the collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry that includes "The Husband's Message," was a gift to Exeter Cathedral by Leofric, who was Bishop of Exeter from 1050 to 1071. It is still in the cathedral's possession (source).

The Exeter Book contains the only surviving copies of many of the most famous Anglo-Saxon poems, including "The Husband's Message," "The Seafarer," and "The Wanderer." The problem is, since The Exeter Book was damaged in a fire, some parts of the poems are totally illegible, so we'll probably never know the full texts (source).

The Exeter Book wasn't always considered as valuable as it is today. Check out this description of the damage done to the book of Anglo-Saxon poetry: "The fact that fol. 8a, the first page preserved of the original manuscript, has been scored over with knife strokes suggests that at one time in its history the book was used as a cutting board. […] A vessel containing liquid, perhaps a beer mug, has made a circular stain near the center of fol. 8a. The liquid has been spilled over a large portion of this page, and has gone through the next two folios also, causing a brown stain on these folios and making the text in some places very difficult to read. […] by far the greatest damage to the manuscript has been done on the last fourteen folios, where a long diagonal burn has destroyed much of that text" (source). A cutting board? Crazy!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement