Ælfric of Eynsham was one of the most prolific and politically engaged prose writers in early medieval England. His alliterative prose Lives of Saints (ca. 994-998 CE), composed during a turbulent era of Viking attack and church reform, has generated extensive scholarship on a range of topics, including lay piety, medieval gender relations, and the boundaries between Old English poetry and prose. Although Ælfric’s writings have long been recognized for their centrality within early English literature and culture, the main scholarly edition of his Lives of Saints–W. W. Skeat’s edition and translation, published by the Early English Text Society in 1881-1900 and reprinted in 1966 with no significant revisions–is over a century old. Clayton and Mullins’ three-volume edition of the Lives of Saints with facing-page translation is thus a much-awaited and most welcome addition to the field.
Clayton and Mullins have produced an accessible, and yet remarkably thorough, edition that is filled with deep learning, energy, and good sense. Although the editors wear their learning lightly, these three volumes are the product of extensive knowledge and erudition. Scholars of all levels, as well as generalists interested in the early medieval past, will find much to admire in this accomplished and elegant edition.
Stacy S. Klein
The Medieval Review