The ‘thingness’ of time in the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book and Aldhelm’s Latin enigmata
in Nonhuman voices in Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture

For Jane Bennett, those who wish to take the claims of thing theory seriously should slow down and try to linger in those moments during which they find themselves fascinated by objects. Anglo-Saxon culture invites us to cultivate a lingering fascination with the blade that melts like ice at the turning of the seasons, the candle-clock that burns too swiftly, the stone monument that crumbles and fades, the bone that endures as a relic, human and animal skin that does or does not display the corruption of death. The second chapter of this book is therefore concerned with the ‘thingness’ of time. By refusing to remain fixed within one form, the speaking creatures in Old English and Anglo-Latin riddles invite human readers to rethink how our own bodies, as things among other things, may cross categories of age, role and gender over different stretches of time.

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