Two fragments make up the remainder of what we have of older Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry. The first is a fragment of fifty lines, incomplete both at the beginning and the end, dealing with the same Finn story which we hear of in Beowulf. It is part of a lay, and describes the attack of Hnæf's hall by the followers of Finn(the Beowulf passage being a paraphrase of a handling at much greater length of the same general subject, though there are difficulties in reconciling it with the fragment).

A critical History of English literature by David Daiches

I don’t understand why the prepositional phrase (in bold) is used here.. Is it used for Beowulf that Beowulf is of much greater length or it is for the text of which Beowulf is a Paraphrase giving sense that the part of lay is very long?

  • The sentence is ambiguous. That prepositional phrase could be read as referring to either one.
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 8:24
  • 1
    @gotube normally paraphrase are shorter so it should be the text which is of much greater length not Beowulf passage but as it has already been mentioned that the text or fragment is of just 50 lines so it doesn't seem fit to call it of great length.
    – RADS
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 8:49
  • That prepositional phrase definitely does not refer to the fragment of 50 lines. There is another work that Beowulf is based on, not this one. The question is whether that phrase refers to the Beowulf passage, or the "handling" that Beowulf is based on, and that's not clear
    – gotube
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 8:57


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