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Mercedes Salvador-Bello

Medieval European Studies Series

May 2015
PB 978-1-935978-51-0 $44.99
ePub 978-1-935978-52-7 $44.99


International Society of Anglo-Saxonists's 2017 Best First Book Prize winner

This book discusses the considerable influence exerted by Isidore’s Etymologiae on the compilation of early medieval enigmata. Either in the form of thematic clusters or pairs, Isidorean encyclopedic patterns are observed not only in major Latin riddle collections in verse but can also be detected in the two vernacular assemblages contained in the Exeter Book. 

As with encyclopedias, the topic-centered arrangement of riddles was pursued by compilers as a strategy intended to optimize the didactic and instructional possibilities inherent in these texts and favor the readers’ assimilation of their contents. This book thus provides a thoroughgoing investigation of medieval riddling, with special attention to the Exeter Book Riddles, demonstrating that this genre constituted an important part of the school curriculum of the early Middle Ages.


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Mercedes Salvador-Bello is associate professor of English at the Universidad de Sevilla, where she teaches, among other subjects, Anglo-Saxon literature. Her research interests include Anglo-Saxon and Insular Latin literature with a particular focus on the Exeter Book, the Old English Riddles, and Latin enigmata. She is co-editor of SELIM, Journal of the Spanish Society for the Study of English Language and Literature.


“A most substantial and authoritative contribution to the study of its subject. . . .It can be predicted to have considerable influence on work in this field in the years ahead."
Hugh Magennis, Professor Emeritus, Queen's University Belfast, English Studies

2016 Asociación española de estudios anglo-norteamericanos/Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies (AEDEAN) publication award for research on English Literature

The European Society for the Study of English Book Award, short-listed 
Category A, Literatures in the English Language