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OF THE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE

FINNSBURG DOCUMENTS

INTRODUCTION

Bibliographies of Beowulf are sufficiently numerous and complete; there are also fairly satisfactory lists of translations and studies of the Finnsburg Fragment; but apparently no one as yet has attempted to cull out from the unwieldy mass of Beowulf material such articles as deal with the Finn episode and, by bringing them into proper relation with the works on the fragment, furnish the materials for an intelligent résumé of what scholarship has accomplished toward solving the Finnsburg problem.

Such a résumé ought to be indispensable for a thoroughly critical study of the Finnsburg documents. It will contain inevitably much that will be found useless when a satisfactory solution is arrived at, but until that time it is unscientific and unsafe to pass by without due consideration any sincere attempt to throw light upon this very obscure portion of our early literature.

In his recently published edition of Widsith, Mr. Chambers says: "Modern scholarship has been rather too ready to dismiss the conclusions of earlier students without sufficiently examining the facts from which those conclusions were drawn. Each of these earlier critics based his work upon a careful study of his predecessors' investigations." It is only by such gradual evolution of opinion, he concludes, that theories of permanent value can be gained.

More than a quarter of a century ago Professor Kluge declared: "A consideration and criticism of all former views would bring the difficult places more into the foreground, spare unnecessary reflections over long solved problems, and remove the danger of repeating what has already been said." He then

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