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Matyushina I.G. The Functions of Formulaic Style in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Poems. Studia Litterarum, 2019, vol. 4, no 2, pp. 62–87. (In Russ.)
DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2019-4-2-62-87

Author: Inna G. Matyushina
Information about the author:

Inna G. Matyushina, DSc in Philology, Leading Researcher, Meletinsky Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya Ploshad 6, 125993 Moscow, Russia; Honorary Professor of the University of Exeter, Queen’s Building, The Queen’s Drive, Exeter EX4 4QH.
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Received: December 10, 2018
Published: June 25, 2019
Issue: 2019 Vol. 4, №2
Department: World Literature
Pages: 62-87

UDK: 82.091
BBK: 83.3(0)3
Keywords: formula, formulaic style, Old English poetry, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Poetic Edda, oral tradition, written texts, image, theme, motif.


The main aim of the article is to suggest a new (functional) approach to the stylistic study of medieval texts relation to the theory of oral-formulaic composition. According to the Parry-Lord theory, the formula is viewed as a solely utilitarian element, necessary for extempore composition during performance but lacking an aesthetic function. Formulas participate in the composition of written poems included in the annals of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which have not hitherto been the object of scholarly attention. Formulas are endowed with new functions here, allowing to convey additional meanings. The arguments of the article elucidate the main function of formulaic style in written poetry which can be called “associative”: in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle poems formulas are used to unfold images and motifs with the purpose of establishing associations with traditional motifs and imagery of heroic and Christian poetry. The use of formulas is shown in the article to be a means which enables the creator of the poem to bring into prominence key motifs of their components, endowing them with associations with entire formulaic systems. In the poems of Anglo- Saxon Chronicle formulas, performing the role of a consciously cultivated literary aesthetic device, are not only assigned a new associative function but also enriched with new stylistic connotations, which in the article are called heroicizing, archaicizing, and nostalgic.


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