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    Aquas ab Aquis: aqueous creation in Andreas

    Bintley, Mike (2021) Aquas ab Aquis: aqueous creation in Andreas. In: Twomey, C. and Anlezark, D. (eds.) Meanings of Water in Early Medieval England. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, pp. 159-175. ISBN 9782503588889.

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    Andreas is unusually wet, even for an Old English poem. Water defines the landscape of the city of Mermedonia and the approach to it, but does so in a way that, like Grendel’s mere in Beowulf, continues to frustrate critical interpretation. Dry land is shaped and defined in opposition to water, but Mermedonia confounds our preference for the sharp edges of modern cartography. Water also presents dangerous and uncertain terrain of the kind that swallows mariners in The Whale and Juliana, and operates in Andreas both as a metaphor for the earthly journey through life, and as a means for an initially reluctant, Jonah-like Andrew to demonstrate his heroic commitment to God’s plan. Finally, baptismal waters are summoned from the base of a pillar and swell up within the walls of Mermedonia, becoming a flood that prompts its devil-worshipping cannibal inhabitants into a hasty conversion. Though the author’s evident interest in the presence and action of water throughout the poem has been a focus of discussion throughout much of its critical history, the coherency of its symbolism has not been fully recognised. These approaches to these different facets of water’s symbolism in Andreas are not, as this essay will argue, as disparate as they may first appear, but rather serve to align the author’s poetic work with the word of God. The poet creates and orders the watery world of the poem, just as God sets out and orders the parts of the world in Genesis 1:6, ‘aquas ab aquis’ (the waters from the waters). The poet’s work is not merely mimetic; through the poet’s authorship, the authority of the divine word flows through the poem, irrigating the barren City of Man with the living waters of Heavenly Jerusalem.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): water, landscape, environment, Andreas, early medieval England
    School: Other
    Divisions > Other
    Research Centres and Institutes: Medieval and Early Modern Worlds
    Depositing User: Mike Bintley
    Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2021 10:39
    Last Modified: 22 Nov 2021 10:39


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