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No book-length literary history of Old English prose has ever been written, and perhaps for good reason. The corpus is vast and much of it has traditionally been regarded as non-literary. In this paper, I will make the case for the value of such a project, outlining my approach and explaining the rationale for the book’s structure and scope. Moving away from the ‘great man’ view of literary history, this project will place the achievements of named prose authors such as Alfred, Wulfstan and Ælfric in a much wider story of prose experiment and stylistic development stretching from the seventh to eleventh centuries.

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