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BEOWULF by Seamus Heaney
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BEOWULF (edition 2010)

by Seamus Heaney, Becca Illustrated by Thorne (Illustrator)

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15,512210118 (3.83)1 / 686
Member:Victrix20
Title:BEOWULF
Authors:Seamus Heaney
Other authors:Becca Illustrated by Thorne (Illustrator)
Info:Folio Society (2010), Hardcover, 248 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Anglo-Saxon, Poetry, Folio Society

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. 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 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 Táin by Táin 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 (202)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Tagalog (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
I'm a Heaney fan and, after reading his introduction to and translation of Beowulf, I think the depth of that statement swelled a few leagues. That being said, I haven't read Beowulf prior to this encounter and would have to read other translations to really offer up a satisfyingly comparative review. However, I can say that this particular effort of Heaney's has inspired enough interest to do just that.

As for the story of Beowulf in and of itself: it offers a view into an honor-bound society and a heroic journey that is priceless in how it's merit in both style and telling has inspired and shaped our definition of the 'hero's journey' up to the present day. As Heaney says, it's 'an inheritance,' a statement I fully agree with. Much like Homer's Odyssey or Tolkien's Rings, it's both definitive, explorative, and "willable...again and again and again." ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Not being a scholar on such poems as "Beowulf" and having read it for the first time, I find it was a beautifully written and in such a way as you can almost see the poetic imagery in front of your eyes. From the first words of the prologue - "Hear me!" - one may be caught in the trap of, although the poem consists of 3182 lines of verse (no fear, only 99 pages), finishing the book in one day.

There is adventure, suspense, anticipation, blood, revenge, fantasy, death, mourning, villains, faith in God, glorious heroes, dreadful monsters, all elements of what makes a great story combined in one. There are moments that you can almost feel the character's emotions, for example, in Wiglaf's failed attempt to revive Beowulf from death and his resignation to the Christian God's will:

"...He was sitting
Near Beowulf's body, warily sprinkling
Water in the dead man's face, trying
To stir him. He could not. No one could have kept
Life in their lord's body, or turned
Aside the Lord's will: world
And men and all move as He orders,
And always have, and always will."

(lines 2853-2859)

For those not familiar and new to reading this kind of poetry, as I am, there is provided a helpful introduction, an informative afterword, and a glossary of names and a diagram of the genealogy of characters mentioned.

I encourage the reading if this classic. After reading it, you will know why it is a classic, and that for centuries. ( )
  atdCross | Sep 5, 2016 |
Theme:
Type: historical fiction
Value: 1-
Age: ele
Interest: 1-
Objectionable:
Synopsis/Noteworthy: oldest English epic poem
  keithhamblen | Jun 27, 2016 |
A great epic fantasy tale. ( )
  Shadow494 | Jun 20, 2016 |
This was soooooooo much better than The Iliad and The Odyssey.

First of all, this edition of the book is lovely. It included many photos and illustrations of artifacts and the general places involved in this story. That was a nice edition.

Second, I did not read it in the Old English. I would have liked to, but without reading this as part of a class - reading this just for my own edification - there was no percentage in it at this point.

That being said, reading this was a pleasure. This translation portrayed the action, the atmosphere, and the characters. Perhaps it was the accompanying photos of artifacts, but I had so much more sense of place and feel for this story than The Iliad & The Odyssey.

Two interesting things come to the fore for me:
1. There is a real sense of responsibility of the leaders for their followers/thanes. Writing this on the eve of a mid-term election, I wonder how we've gotten so far away from that. We give power to those who do nothing to earn it, and in turn they do not hold that power in sacred trust. Perhaps these ancient leaders did not live up to this, but the poet who tells the tale makes a point of emphasizing that heroes did.
2. The poet is telling a pagan tale. Yet he infuses this tale with Christian values and sentiments. It's a bit of a loss to not hear how exactly Hrothgar, Beowulf, the Danes, and the Geats related their actions to their gods and their understanding of the afterlife.

All in all, a worthwhile read of the Western Canon. I'm glad I picked it up. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (169 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beowulf Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
AnonymousAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Heaney, Seamusmain 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
Thorne, BeccaIllustratorsecondary 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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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 25 descriptions

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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

University of Texas Press

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

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