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Beowulf by Beowulf Poet
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Beowulf

by Beowulf Poet, Anonymous (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,158209124 (3.83)1 / 677
  1. 183
    Grendel by John Gardner (lyzadanger, sweetandsyko, sturlington)
    lyzadanger: Stunning prose from the point of view of the monster.
  2. 140
    The Iliad by Homer (benmartin79)
  3. 122
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain Poet (OwenGriffiths, chrisharpe)
    OwenGriffiths: If you like Old/Middle English texts translated by great poets...
  4. 101
    The Icelandic Sagas: Volume 1 by Magnus Magnusson (BGP)
  5. 101
    The Nibelungenlied by Anonymous (Weasel524)
    Weasel524: Embodies and champions the same spirit/ideals commonly shared by norse mythology, scandanavian sagas, and northern germanic folklore. Significantly longer and different in structure, should that be of concern
  6. 124
    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (benmartin79)
  7. 82
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / Pearl / Cleanness / Patience by A. C. Cawley (OwenGriffiths)
  8. 61
    The Sagas of Icelanders by Örnólfur Thorsson (chrisharpe)
  9. 61
    The Tain by Tain Author (BGP)
  10. 83
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer)
    moonstormer: the short story in Fragile Things - Monarch of the Glen - is very related to Beowulf and could be seen as an interesting commentary.
  11. 72
    Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (PaulRackleff)
    PaulRackleff: Michael Crichton had written "Eaters of the Dead" as a means to show Beowulf's story value. The character names and plot line are very similar. Though Crichton changed some elements to make it more interesting than just a copy of Beowulf.
  12. 14
    Opened Ground: Poems 1966–1996 by Seamus Heaney (JessamyJane)
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English (198)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Tagalog (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (205)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
Nice, readable prose translation of the epic poem--not sure I would have read it otherwise. My Granny Giroux saw this and said "You bought that because of the cover!" and I couldn't argue. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Apr 29, 2016 |
I would have loved to have a glossary with in this book with a few explanations of some words and maybe a summary because the poetical form can make the story hard to follow ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
Ancient story of a badass warrior dude who saves folks from tyrannical, mythological beasts. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
Ancient story of a badass warrior dude who saves folks from tyrannical, mythological beasts. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
This is the unabridged version of Beowulf, and I love it. (I just slobbered a little bit on my chin, for pure excitement, while writing this.)

The original Old English text appears alongside the Seamus Heaney translation. And this arrangement -- Old English on the left, Today's English on the right -- sets a truly old-world, Ultima Thule vibe for the reading. I could smell the woodsmoke. I could taste the mead. My inner-brain reading voice was Seamus Heaney's: gravelly, tinged with an Irish lilt. (Because I listened first to the Audio CD Seamus Heaney reading.)

I won't bother ever seeing the Beowulf movie because nothing simply audio and visual could compete with what I just experienced. Besides, the fact that Grendel's mom is some supposedly bawdy outcast wench whom King Hrothgar sleazily got serviced by one cold and lonely night in the past, when he was out late tramping about the peat bogs looking for a little hot bawdy wench action -- that Hollywoodish twist totally ruins the idea of Grendel and his mom as members of Cain's evil clan, Cain cast out from God, "marked because he murdered". For a true understanding of that outcast dynamic, you'll need to read John Gardner's "Grendel". That amazing little companion to Beowulf helps clarify, better than anything else I've read, why Grendel has a pouch made from dragon skins.

Beowulf is about the really big ideas: good and evil, light and darkness. The poem's vibe (as Seamus Heaney has brung it) is very pagan. It's a tale told by flickering flame light. You get the sense of this earth life as something strange and weird and best expressed only by parable. Imagine a sparrow flying into a meadhall from a cold winter night -- bright and warm and cozy, beautiful even -- and then the sparrow flies out of the hall and back into the cold winter night. That, to paraphrase a story from the venerable Bede, is our experience of life: we are the sparrow, and we come from a cold nothing into a bright warmth and then we go back to the cold nothing. That's a human life, as the Beowulf text tells it.

The Beowulf meta-story, however, is the fact that we today, one millennium later, have the story in our hands. (That, actually, is pretty amazing considering that only one solitary manuscript survived antiquity to bring Beowulf to us.) The meaning of the meta-story contradicts the textual meaning of Beowulf; i.e., there appears to be something more to life in the communal sense life (as opposed to the individual or solitary life) that is a kind of profound and tantalizing mystery. Who is the collective we? Where are we going? What is the sum of all our stories, our infinite imagination, our love, our hate?

These are important questions with dark answers.

All that, from one little pagan poem. ( )
1 vote evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (169 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beowulf Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
AnonymousAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Collinder, BjörnTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Alexander, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Sarah M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botkine, L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brunetti, GiuseppeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chickering, Howell D.Translation and Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark-Hall, John RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collinder, BjörnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley Holland, KevinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dean, RobertsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donaldson, E. T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Earle, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ettmüller, Ernst Moritz LudwigTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flynn, BenedictTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gordon, Robert KayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grein, Christian Wilhelm MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grion, GiustoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grundtvig, Nicolas Frederic SeverinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gummere, Francis BartonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, John LesslieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusTranslator, Introduction, Readersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffmann, P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hube, Hans-JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kemble, John M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehmann, Ruth P. M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonard, William ElleryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lumsden, H. W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magnusson, MagnusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNamara, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyer, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekonen, OsmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raffel, BurtonTranslation and Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, SueProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaldemose, FrederikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simons, L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simrock, KarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steineck, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swanton, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinker, Chauncey BrewsterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wackerbarth, A. DiedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wickberg, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolzogen, Hans vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, A. J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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People/Characters
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Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of Ted Hughes

Seamus Heaney (1999)
For Brian and Blake

Burton Raffel (1963)
In memory of Joseph and Winifred Alexander

Michael Alexander (1973)
First words
Hwæt we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.

(translated by Seamus Heaney, 1999)
Hear me! We've heard of Danish heroes,
Ancient kings and the glory they cut
For themselves, swinging mighty swords!

(translated by Burton Raffel, 1963)
Attend!
We have heard of the thriving of the throne of Denmark,
how the folk-kings flourished in former days,
how those royal athelings earned that glory.

(translated by Michael Alexander, 1973)
How that glory remains in remembrance,
Of the Danes and their kings in days gone,
The acts and valour of princes of their blood!

(translated by Edwin Morgan, 1952)
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is any complete, unabridged translation of Beowulf. The Seamus Heaney translation is not a separate work from the other complete, unabridged translations. To quote the FAQ on combining - "A work brings together all different copies of a book, regardless of edition, title variation, or language."

Based on currently accepted LibraryThing convention, the Norton Critical Edition is treated as a separate work, ostensibly due to the extensive additional, original material included.
This is an unabridged translation of Beowulf, and should NOT be combined with abridged editions, regardless of translator.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
AR 10.4, 5 Pts
Haiku summary
Fear falls on the hall:
monster meets match in hero;
mother waits at home.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393320979, Paperback)

In Beowulf warriors must back up their mead-hall boasts with instant action, monsters abound, and fights are always to the death. The Anglo-Saxon epic, composed between the 7th and 10th centuries, has long been accorded its place in literature, though its hold on our imagination has been less secure. In the introduction to his translation, Seamus Heaney argues that Beowulf's role as a required text for many English students obscured its mysteries and "mythic potency." Now, thanks to the Irish poet's marvelous recreation (in both senses of the word) under Alfred David's watch, this dark, doom-ridden work gets its day in the sun.

There are endless pleasures in Heaney's analysis, but readers should head straight for the poem and then to the prose. (Some will also take advantage of the dual-language edition and do some linguistic teasing out of their own.) The epic's outlines seem simple, depicting Beowulf's three key battles with the scaliest brutes in all of art: Grendel, Grendel's mother (who's in a suitably monstrous snit after her son's dismemberment and death), and then, 50 years later, a gold-hoarding dragon "threatening the night sky / with streamers of fire." Along the way, however, we are treated to flashes back and forward and to a world view in which a thane's allegiance to his lord and to God is absolute. In the first fight, the man from Geatland must travel to Denmark to take on the "shadow-stalker" terrorizing Heorot Hall. Here Beowulf and company set sail:

Men climbed eagerly up the gangplank,
sand churned in the surf, warriors loaded
a cargo of weapons, shining war-gear
in the vessel's hold, then heaved out,
away with a will in their wood-wreathed ship.
Over the waves, with the wind behind her
and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird...
After a fearsome night victory over march-haunting and heath-marauding Grendel, our high-born hero is suitably strewn with gold and praise, the queen declaring: "Your sway is wide as the wind's home, / as the sea around cliffs." Few will disagree. And remember, Beowulf has two more trials to undergo.

Heaney claims that when he began his translation it all too often seemed "like trying to bring down a megalith with a toy hammer." The poem's challenges are many: its strong four-stress line, heavy alliteration, and profusion of kennings could have been daunting. (The sea is, among other things, "the whale-road," the sun is "the world's candle," and Beowulf's third opponent is a "vile sky-winger." When it came to over-the-top compound phrases, the temptations must have been endless, but for the most part, Heaney smiles, he "called a sword a sword.") Yet there are few signs of effort in the poet's Englishing. Heaney varies his lines with ease, offering up stirring dialogue, action, and description while not stinting on the epic's mix of fate and fear. After Grendel's misbegotten mother comes to call, the king's evocation of her haunted home may strike dread into the hearts of men and beasts, but it's a gift to the reader:

A few miles from here
a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch
above a mere; the overhanging bank
is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.
At night there, something uncanny happens:
the water burns. And the mere bottom
has never been sounded by the sons of men.
On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:
the hart in flight from pursuing hounds
will turn to face them with firm-set horns
and die in the wood rather than dive
beneath its surface. That is no good place.
In Heaney's hands, the poem's apparent archaisms and Anglo-Saxon attitudes--its formality, blood-feuds, and insane courage--turn the art of an ancient island nation into world literature. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:38 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.… (more)

» see all 25 descriptions

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Audible.com

8 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393320979, 0393330109

Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140449310, 0451530969, 0141194871

Candlewick Press

2 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763630233, 0763630225

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An edition of this book was published by University of Texas Press.

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