The Obscene Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter book
Stevenson, Douglas K.
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Among the ninety-five Riddles of the Exeter Book there are eight that have been classified as being obscene. They are also separated from the other Riddles by having intended double meanings; one innocent, the other of a salacious nature. Because they do often have lewd connotations, they have been slandered, ignored, and all but omitted from discussion that does not have to do with semantics. It is my contention that these eight riddles have inherent value when compared to their fellows, and what is more, by the intentional academic suppression of these riddles by previous scholars, a great disservice has been done to the image we have of the Anglo-Saxon and his literature. This contention is the basis for this paper. My translations of these eight riddles, while far from being the best, are my first attempts in translating Old English. These translations have been placed near the originals in order to make comparison easier. Even in a small manuscript such as this one is, it is irritating to keep turning pages back and forth.