Is the narrator of An Ecclesiastical History of the English People, third-person omniscient or first-person limited?

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englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The preface of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, otherwise known as An Ecclesiastical History of the English People, is written in first person.  Bede was an English monk, and this, his most noted work, told the history of the Church of England, but it also contained a lot of English history, as well.  After writing this book, he was often referred to as "The Father of English History".  In the preface, Bede is basically telling the reader why he's writing the history, and how he went about writing it.

After the preface, though, the "I" point of view so common with the first person narration disappears.  It can be assumed, however, that this first person narration continues, but from a limited point of view.  My definition of first person limited has always been that the narrator is a "fly on the wall", making observations but not participating in the actual events, as opposed to the regular first person narrator who not only observes but also participates in the plot.

After reading Bede's work and taking into consideration the definition of a first person limited narrator, I would have to say that our narrator is third person omniscient, since he was not actually living to observe all of the history he so painstakingly wrote about.

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