Alcuin Criticism - Essay


Andrew Fleming West (essay date 1892)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: West, Andrew Fleming. “The Educational Writings of Alcuin.” In Alcuin and the Rise of the Christian Schools, pp. 89-116. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1892.

[In the following essay, West surveys Alcuin's didactic works.]

Alcuin's writings have been preserved to us in tolerable completeness, and may be classified under a fourfold division. First come his theological works, which embrace the greater part, perhaps two-thirds, of all that he wrote. This theological portion may in turn be divided into four parts, exegetical, dogmatic, liturgical and practical, and lives of the saints. Of the remaining third of his writings, the major parts is embraced in...

(The entire section is 7023 words.)

Peter Dale Scott (essay date April 1964)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Scott, Peter Dale. “Alcuin as a Poet: Rhetoric and Belief in His Latin Verse.” University of Toronto Quarterly 33, no. 3 (April 1964): 233-57.

[In the following essay, Scott credits Alcuin for helping shape the evolution toward a modern role for poetry, in which formal rhetoric is subordinated to a functional role within the structure of the poem.]

Much has been written in our century about the question of belief in poetry, and much about the question of rhetoric. I hope in this article to deal with both these aspects of convention (nomos) or habit: rhetoric being considered as linguistic convention or habit, and belief as a habituation of the mind....

(The entire section is 10932 words.)

Peter Dale Scott (essay date July 1965)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Scott, Peter Dale. “Alcuin's Versus de Cuculo: The Vision of Pastoral Friendship.” Studies in Philology 62, no. 4 (July 1965): 510-30.

[In the following essay, Scott examines the symbolic meaning of the cuckoo in a poem by Alcuin, arguing that he used this central image as a means of sublimating the expressions of desire contained within the poem.]

Though I believe Alcuin to have been the innovator of Christian pastoral, I cannot claim that he showed any great interest in perfecting the genre as such. Indeed, he seems almost to have stumbled upon it by accident. We must remember that, when he began to write, the terms pastoralis and...

(The entire section is 8508 words.)

Colin Chase (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Chase, Colin. “Alcuin's Grammar Verse: Poetry and Truth in Carolingian Pedagogy.” In Insular Latin Studies, edited by Michael W. Herren, pp. 135-52. Toronto, Canada: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1981.

[In the following essay, Chase takes other scholars to task for projecting their own attitudes and interests onto those of Alcuin.]

In recent years, a marked tendency towards deductive analysis has characterized Alcuinian studies. The purpose of the deduction has been to abstract from Alcuin's work a systematic treatment of areas of human thought which he dealt with only implicitly or casually. Thus, in 1959, Luitpold Wallach in Alcuin and...

(The entire section is 6986 words.)

Celia M. Chazelle (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Chazelle, Celia M. “To Whom Did Christ Pay the Price? The Soteriology of Alcuin's Epistola 307.” Proceedings of the PMR Conference 14 (1989): 43-62.

[In the following essay, Chazelle outlines Alcuin's rejection of the theory of the atonement, which states that Christ's Passion was a ransom he paid to Satan in order to liberate mankind.]

Towards the end of his life, Alcuin wrote a letter to his emperor and friend, Charlemagne, concerning the significance of Christ's Passion. The letter, epistola 307 in Ernst Dümmler's edition of Alcuin's letters,1 focuses on Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 6.20 that man's salvation was...

(The entire section is 8857 words.)

Joseph Pucci (essay date October-December 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Pucci, Joseph. “Alcuin's Cell Poem: A Virgilian Reappraisal.” Latomus: Revue D'Études Latines 49, no. 4 (October-December 1990): 839-49.

[In the following essay, Pucci analyzes Alcuin's use of Virgilian pastoral language.]

The artistic, generic, and stylistic features of Alcuin's carmen 23 (MGH [Monumenta Germaniae Historica]), commonly called the cell poem, are novel, marking an advance on Merovingian poetics1, and symbolizing an invigoration of poetry-writing after several centuries of relative abandonment. Such features have inspired several generations of scholars at once to praise the poem and to agree upon the unities and...

(The entire section is 5302 words.)

Mark Damien Delp (essay date 1992-93)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Delp, Mark Damien. “Alcuin: Master and Practitioner of Dialectic.” Proceedings of the PMR Conference 16/17 (1992-93): 91-103.

[In the following essay, Delp urges a favorable reappraisal of one of Alcuin's short texts on logic, De dialectica.]

In surveying the scholarship on Alcuin's educational writings, one cannot help noticing the negative judgements leveled on his little text on logic, De dialectica. Although older scholarship tended to be harsh, using adjectives such as “miserable”1 and “mediocre,”2 more recent scholars have brushed aside De dialectica as a mere “compendium.” The best that scholars seem...

(The entire section is 5248 words.)

John William Houghton (essay date 1992-93)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Houghton, John William. “(Re)Sounding Brass: Alcuin's New Castings in the Questions and Answers on Genesis.” Proceedings of the PMR Conference 16/17 (1992-93): 149-61.

[In the following essay, Houghton contends that Alcuin was a skillful weaver of others' texts, not a mere compiler, and that his work speaks in a single voice.]

Depreciation—ridicule, even—of the Carolingian renewal of the empire is an ancient, if not venerable, tradition1, reaching back to contemporary sources: the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes the Confessor reports the events of Christmas Day, 800, with the mocking observation that the Pope anointed the King of the...

(The entire section is 5170 words.)

Martha Bayless (essay date 2002)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bayless, Martha. “Alcuin's Disputatio Pippini and the Early Medieval Riddle Tradition.” In Humour, History, and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, edited by Guy Halsall, pp. 157-78. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

[In the following essay, Bayless examines Alcuin's collection of riddles.]

The early medieval period saw a flowring of riddles and riddle collections, both religious and secular, both earnest and light-hearted. To date the greater part of scholarly attention has been focussed on the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book, on the grounds both of literary merit and of mystery—the text does not...

(The entire section is 9361 words.)