Elves in Anglo-Saxon England
This is the eighth volume in the Boydell Press’ Anglo-Saxon Studies series and is an unashamedly academic book, a valuable contribution to the publisher’s aim of providing ‘a forum for the best scholarship in the Anglo-Saxon peoples’. Along with its careful linguistic and historiographic analysis, however, this book offers some intriguing fodder for the imagination. There are chapters on the concept of elf-shot and its perceived role in illness and healing, on the allures and dangers of beautiful female elves and the place of the elf in Anglo-Saxon perceptions of gender and its transgression. Hall re-examines the evidence for elves in Anglo-Saxon lore with an open mind and a scholarly eye, taking nothing for granted and exposing all received wisdom to new analysis. The result is a fascinating study which enriches our understanding of this sophisticated culture and its unique relationship with aelfe.