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Ælfric (ălˈfrĭk) [key], c.955–1020, English writer and Benedictine monk. He was the greatest English scholar during the revival of learning fostered by the Benedictine monasteries in the second half of the 10th cent. His aim was to educate the laity as well as the clergy. He wrote in English a series of saints' lives and homilies—designed for use as sermons by the preachers who were generally unable to read Latin. Ælfric was also the author of a grammar, a glossary, and a colloquy, which were for many years the standard texts for Latin study in English monasteries. Among his other writings are the Heptateuch, a free English version of the first seven books of the Bible. Ælfric is considered the chief prose stylist of the period. His later writings were strongly influenced by the balance, alliteration, and rhythm of Latin prose.

See Selected Homilies (ed. by H. Sweet, 1922) and the Heptateuch and Other Writings (ed. by Early English Text Society, 1922); study by J. Hurt (1972); bibliography by L. M. Reinsma (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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