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Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus…
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Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (edition 2000)

by Seamus Heaney

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,322233150 (3.82)1 / 739
Member:amyandroland
Title:Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Authors:Seamus Heaney
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2000), Edition: Bilingual, Hardcover, 213 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Beowulf by Beowulf Poet

  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. 132
    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 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
  5. 134
    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (benmartin79)
  6. 101
    The Icelandic Sagas by Magnus Magnusson (BGP)
  7. 82
    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.
  8. 82
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / Pearl / Cleanness / Patience by A. C. Cawley (OwenGriffiths)
  9. 61
    The Táin by Táin author (BGP)
  10. 61
    The Sagas of Icelanders by Örnólfur Thorsson (chrisharpe)
  11. 74
    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.
  12. 10
    The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley (Cecrow)
  13. 14
    Opened Ground: Poems 1966–1996 by Seamus Heaney (JessamyJane)
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English (225)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Tagalog (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (232)
Showing 1-5 of 225 (next | show all)
A beautiful translation. ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
I had to read Beowulf in high school my senior year (we did a bit on the middle ages and its literature). I think I wouldn't have liked this as much as I did if it hadn't been for my instructor. She made the story come to life and provided our class with all sorts of history of the UK (pre-UK) and its countries and people. It was reminiscent in many ways to Odysseus and I enjoyed it overall. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
It must be at least 50 years since I first read Beowulf in school, and had the predictable response. "Huh? Who cares?" In fairness I suspect the translation we used was largely inaccessible to teenagers in the mid-sixties, and once we got caught up in the tangle of language, and our lack of familiarity with this type of literature, even a fan of literature like me glazed over. But ever since Seamus Heaney produced a new translation I've wanted to revisit it, and yesterday I treated myself to the audiobook which is also narrated by Heaney.

And in fact, the more accessible translation made me realize just how alien this kind of story is to contemporary readers. If it had been written today, there would have been some kind of betrayal. Maybe Beowulf would have ulterior motives for going to aid Hrothgar. Maybe Hrothgar doesn't like the way his wife eyes the hero. Maybe the king promises a great prize if Beowulf kills Grendel, then reneges, and when Grendel's mother comes for her revenge, Beowulf refuses to protect the king and his people. But there would have been internal conflict, not just the trio of monsters who ravage the lands, but human conflict. Because our stories aren't simple anymore. Nobility seems almost suspect. I confess, I was waiting for Beowulf to kill Hrothgar and claim the throne, even though I knew better. (It was a lot like watching Ladyhawke for the first time and being sure that Navarre would start killing people randomly because I'd never seen Rutger Hauer as a truly good character.)

But as Heaney spins the tale, it's hard not to become carried away by the bravery and nobility of the people, and maybe the foolhardy nature of Beowulf -- he's a hero, of course he's foolhardy -- who not only decides to travel to another kingdom to help them defeat a monster no one else has been able to kill, but because that monster uses no weapons, he swears he will use none. It will be hand-to-hand between them, he says. When Beowulf returns home after his adventures, laden with material proof of Hrothgar's gratitude, he gives much of it to his king. He's not in this for the gold, but rather for the glory and to serve the greater good. And probably in no small part, for the sake of a good, dust-up with a worthy opponent. In spite of the overtly Christian elements of the story, there is more than a little about Beowulf that is godlike.

Though the translation is accessible, it's not dumbed down. Rather it's quite beautiful, rendered with a poet's graceful way with words. Heaney's narration is welcome, with his clear, softly Irish voice. Normally I listen to audiobooks at 1.5x because I'm impatient with most narrations, but for this one I slowed to normal speed in order to savor the sheer beauty of it.

If you've never read Beowulf, or have an wasn't wowed by it, please do try this translation. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Jul 27, 2018 |
Cried today as we re-read the woeful "Father's Lament." Reading this again makes me want to teach a class in all ancient literature. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
Cried today as we re-read the woeful "Father's Lament." Reading this again makes me want to teach a class in all ancient literature. ( )
  msmilton | Jul 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 225 (next | show all)
At the beginning of the new millennium, one of the surprise successes of the publishing season is a 1,000-year-old masterpiece. The book is ''Beowulf,'' Seamus Heaney's modern English translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, which was created sometime between the 7th and the 10th centuries.
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Mel Gussow (Mar 29, 2000)
 
Translation is not mainly the work of preserving the hearth -- a necessary task performed by scholarship -- but of letting a fire burn in it.
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Richard Eder (Feb 2, 2000)
 

» Add other authors (127 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beowulf Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Sarah M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardIllustratorsecondary 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, SeamusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusTranslator, Introduction, Readersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusTranslatorsecondary 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
Mitchell, StephenTranslatorsecondary 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
Thorne, BeccaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinker, Chauncey BrewsterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wackerbarth, A. DiedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wickberg, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolpe, BertholdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolzogen, Hans vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, A. J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Canonical title
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Alternative titles
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People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Of the strength of the Spear-Danes in days gone by we have heard, and of their hero-kings: the prodigious deeds those princes perfomed!

(translated by Stephen Mitchell, 2017)
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)
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(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
Canonical DDC/MDS
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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 34 descriptions

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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

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