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Paperback Beowulf: A New Verse Translation Book

ISBN: 0393320979

ISBN13: 9780393320978

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

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Book Overview

Composed toward the end of the first millennium, "Beowulf" is the classic Northern epic of a hero's triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. In his new translation--a national bestseller that is the winner of the Whitbread Award--Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has produced a work that is both true, line by line, to the original poem and a fundamental expression of his own creative gift. (Poetry)

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

1/5

the best part of this book was the ending bc lol

Unusual but good translation

Frederick Rebsamen's recently revised translation of Beowulf is stands out from the crowd. Having read the poem dozens of times, both in Old English and in translation, I have to say that this is certainly the most literal rendering of the poem in modern English that I've yet read. Rebsamen states in his introduction and notes that he set out to produce a translation that would not only recreate the exciting story of the epic, but would give the reader a feel for the poetry and rhythm of the original. He has succeeded remarkably. Where most modern English editions of Beowulf are set in blank or free verse, Rebsamen follows the original four-stress pattern of Anglo-Saxon poetry and goes so far as to include the caesura or pause in the middle of each line. The language of the original also shows through very clearly. Beowulf includes scores of kennings, and Rebsamen translates many of them literally. The translation is not without flaws, of course. Owing to the lilting, stop and start rhythms typical of Old English poetry and Rebsamen's faithful translation, the phrases sometimes seem to run over one another. The unique style also takes some time to get used to, but it's certainly worth it. Recommended.

Excellent edition

This is a beautiful translation that captures the tone and tenor of Old English. Although it eschews the alliterative line essential to Old English poetry, Heaney's rendering is magically evocative of the somber stoicism and occasionally wry understatement of this seminal poem. The critical commentary provides a nice general scholarly apparatus that helps one contextualize and better appreciate the poem and the achievement of Heaney as a modern day "scop" through whom the original - alas anonymous - poet speaks.

The First English Epic

"Beowulf," a poem written sometime between the eighth and tenth centuries AD, is the first surviving epic in what would become the English language. Beowulf is a young man, who, in his youth, was an unsettled, unmotivated prince of the Danish Geats. As he matures, he hears of a neighbouring king's problems, and ventures on the sea to help out. Beowulf's motivation is to rise above his early dissipation and make a name of fame and glory through great deeds.Beowulf's relationship with the troubled king Hrothgar, and his feud with the demonic beast Grendel are integral parts of this work, known to students of English throughout the world. Through all the war-boasts, battles, and gift-giving, look for the touching humility of Beowulf, rendering him a complex and emotionally involving character. Even in translation, the syntax of "Beowulf" can be convoluted and difficult to follow, but the outline of the story despite its language and frequent flashbacks, is still easy to discern and appreciate. "Beowulf" offers us a glimpse into two cultures: The culture of the writer, along with his values, religious and social; and The culture of Beowulf, from centuries before the writer, a society based on kinship and reciprocality. For those who enjoyed Michael Crichton's "The 13th Warrior," nee "Eaters of the Dead," "Beowulf" is an important literary forebear, and it is wonderful to read the two together and compare.

A terrific prose translation

David Wright has provided the reader with an excellent prose translation of the oldest known epic of any Teutonic people and the first important poem in Old English. It deals primarily with two central events in the life of the Geatish hero Beowulf. The first is concerned with his victory over the monster Grendel who had been attacking Heorot, the mead hall of the Danish king Hrothgar (John Gardner published a novel, "Grendel", in 1971, that takes Grendel's side in the story). The next day, Beowulf slays Grendel's mother who is attempting to try and avenge her son. In the second major event, taking place fifty years later, Beowulf fights a dragon; both are mortally wounded. Hygelac, King of the Gelts, is identified with the historical Chochilaicus, who raided the lower Rhine about 512 A. D. A young Beowulf was in that raid. When Chochilaicus was killed in a battle with the Franks about 520, he was succeeded by his son Heardred. This poem shows the importance, in a warrior society, of the relationship between the warrior and his lord. The poem, even though it contains threads of Christian commentary, is also concerned with the pagen view of immortality: the memory of a warrior's heroic acts. Also: that fate can be swayed by courage. "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good."

Beowulf Mentions in Our Blog

Beowulf in Timeless Classics with Timely Updates
Timeless Classics with Timely Updates
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 03, 2020

Getting young people to read old books can be challenging. One successful approach we’ve come across is to pair the original with a modern take on the story. Here we feature ten classic books matched with fun, updated retellings.

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