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Re-writing discourse features: speech acts in Heliand

Buzzoni, Marina (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

The Garden of Crossing Paths: The Manipulation and Rewriting of Medieval Texts, Venezia: Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, (2005) rev. ed. 2007, pp. 139-161.


Starting with a discussion about the standard approach to the Heliand – an early ninth-century Old Saxon verse reworking of the Gospel – as provided by Ronald Murphy in 1989 and 1992, this paper seeks to find out a new path for the interpretation of the poem as far as its communicative features are concerned. In order to do so, a linguistic and philological analysis of how the Heliand authors re-wrote their direct and indirect hypotexts will be carried out, paying particular attention to the information structure of the utterances. Furthermore, the context from which the poem springs – i.e., broadly speaking, the so-called “Carolingian culture and thought” – will be taken into consideration in order to account for the communica- tive choices made by the compilers. Finally, it will be argued that the Heliand conveys an orthodox Christian message, whose presence throughout the whole poem has led us to formulate new hypotheses about both the use of the text and the com- position of its audience.