The Achievement of Aelfric

Paul Szarmach speaks about his research for his book The Achievement of Aelfric and gives a brief biography of Aelfric of Eynsham, a monk and scholar who lived in England during the eleventh century. Szarmach discusses the difficulty in defining “medieval humanism” and the influence of the church in everyday life in that era. He speaks about Aelfric’s interest in prose writing, which was unusual for his time, and about nonfiction in particular. The influence of Aelfric’s work on Christian doctrine is also discussed, with commentary on writings about saints’ lives. As an example, Szarmach compares two writings on the life of Saint Martin of Tours, one written during his lifetime and the other after his death.

At the time of this interview, Szarmach, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center (1981-82), was professor of English at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

This edition of Soundings was conducted by Wayne J. Pond.

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