A question of voice and an examination of an - Other in the “Lacnunga”: A rhetorical recovery




Perry, Susan P.

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The Lacnunga reaches us, some one thousand years after its compilation, as a medical text and an early form of technical writing created by a healer skilled in Lœcecrœft. This study creates additional understanding of the audience, the Lacnunga 's oral and literate features, the manuscript's metaphors, rational and superstitious healing, and gender features in the Lacnunga. The Lacnunga's layers interweave, emerge, and later submerge, serving as architect, informing, clarifying, and unveiling the other strata. Each is a component of the Lacnunga's overall manuscript. Looking at this multi-voiced document using Bakhtin's paradigm for textual analysis reveals the strata differently than Grattan and Singer do in their study Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine. Their analysis deals with internal evidence which reveals the historical influences embedded in the manuscript. Their discussion of this “common-place book” identifies medical knowledge which was concurrent with or predated the Lacnunga. Further, they discuss the magical, pagan, and Christian influences on the text. This study has identified other forms of influence, while at the same time working with the narrator and the voice of an-Other which is intrinsic to the manuscript.

Broadly speaking, this study has two goals. As a work of scholarship, it seeks to recover the internal voice of an-Other, a voice which contributes to an additional inclusive understanding of the Lacnunga. The second goal examines authorship through gender-related study, seeking to examine the text through evidence, circumstantial as it is, in hopes of instigating further discussion and research on the Lacnunga as a possible example of feminine contribution to medicine. The working paradigm for the study has been Bakhtin's theory of heteroglossia. An examination of the narrator and an-Other which exists as a dialogic entity within the text uncovers the easily identifiable voice in each chapter, a voice which dialogues with and receives aid towards rhetorical recovery by an internal, weaker voice. This concept is intrinsic to this study and to a method useful for identifying voices which are entrenched in the text, voices which add new ways of looking at the Lacnunga.



Language, literature, and linguistics, Anglo-Saxon, Lacnunga, Laececraef, Medical text, Rhetoric