Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.



by Beowulf Poet

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,856255153 (3.82)1 / 772
Beowulf first rescues the royal house of Denmark from two marauding monsters, then returns to rule his people for 50 years, ultimately losing his life in a battle to defend the Geats from a dragon's rampage.
  1. 204
    Grendel by John Gardner (lyzadanger, sweetandsyko, sturlington)
    lyzadanger: Stunning prose from the point of view of the monster.
    sturlington: Grendel is a retelling of Beowulf from the monster's pov.
  2. 150
    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. 144
    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (benmartin79)
  5. 101
    The Nibelungenlied: Prose Translation (Penguin Classics) 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. 101
    The Icelandic Sagas by Magnus Magnusson (BGP)
  7. 102
    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. 71
    The Táin by Táin author (BGP)
  9. 82
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / Pearl / Cleanness / Patience by A. C. Cawley (OwenGriffiths)
  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. 31
    The Mere Wife: A Novel by Maria Dahvana Headley (Cecrow)
  13. 14
    Opened Ground: Poems 1966–1996 by Seamus Heaney (JessamyJane)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (244)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Tagalog (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (251)
Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
I have a long relationship with this poem. I first discovered it the summer I was nine years old on a shelf at the library. I was a good reader, so I was searching the regular fiction stacks for something to bring home. Beowulf sort of jumped out at me, and I read it several times. It was very difficult to understand but I got the gist of it -- hero, monster, monster's mother, dragon, death. A couple of years later, I convinced my friend Paula that we should spend hours in my basement making "radio plays" of Beowulf with sound effects. (A bucket of water sloshes just like the sea on a little 1970s reel to reel.) Then I had to read it in high school and again in college, twice. But as familiar as I was with this story when I encountered the Seamus Heaney translation this week, reading it was transcendent. How I wish I had had this all those years ago. It's a beautiful, lovingly rendered translation. But I must recommend you do what I did: I read the text and listened to the audio version of the translator reading it. SUBLIME!! It is an evergreen tale of a hero and the consequences of one's actions. It gives so much food for thought, like a banquet in a mead hall. Enjoy. ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
Past and present, God’s will prevails.
Hence, understanding is always best
and a prudent mind Whoever remains
for long here in this earthly life
will enjoy and endure more than enough.

While I haven’t read another translation to compare it to, Heaney’s Beowulf instantly strikes me as perfect. The story bristles with authority and magic. A litany of delightful compound words (favorites include: word-hoard, cloud-murk, terror-monger, hell-serf, wound-slurry, and tarn-hag) supplement an already epic narrative of monster slaying and dragon fighting. Though obviously reminiscent of Homer’s epics, I found Beowulf even more primordial, recalling instead another ancient anonymous tale: the Epic of Gilgamesh. ( )
  drbrand | Jun 9, 2020 |
Finally getting around to writing about this reread ahead of the forthcoming 'radical new translation' by Maria Dahvana Headley. After having reread and slogged through the classic Seamus translation I am looking forward to what Headley brings to translation.

It is the oldest epic of Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf is an epic poem written by an unknown author. It was written in the 8th century, and its language is old English and translated into modern English by Seamus Heaney. This poem, consisting of 3182 strings, is about the miracles of the folk hero Beowulf. Despite being the epicenter of the Anglo-Saxon, the scene is Scandinavia, even in the palace of the Danish king Hrothgar.

Epic heroes originated in the Greek Archaic period and became the most popular among heroes, their wars and achievements have been legendary for generations. Beowulf is also an epic hero. A distinctive feature of epic heroes is that they stand out not only with their physical strength, but also with their intelligence and practicality. There is a system in epic epics, the character is introduced, the character's purpose of being there is indicated - which is usually the need to fight a bad guy - and then the character begins to slowly strengthen. This calm ascension is revealed by some conflict or minor warfare, in general, its purpose is to prepare the reader for the big war and show how strong - if not physically - the character is actually.

When the peak is reached - when it is peaked - the character is at the strongest level he can be, he is about to defeat the main evil hero of the saga, and the character feels "worthy" with the honor he gives. Since the bad character is dead, there is not much left to do, it is a fall from the peak. Our hero is loved and counted by the people; Vows are dedicated to him, monuments are erected. He lives a happy life, albeit short; Remember, epic heroes do not live long after performing their mission. It does not make much sense for them to live after realizing their only purpose in their lives. And our hero dies; he definitely dies.

To introduce the authenticity of Beowulf. Beowulf is an epic epic; yes, but the system I mentioned above does not exist in Beowulf. The epic begins with Grendel, whereas Grendel is the main villain, and his defeat must occur at the "peak" point of our epic hero, right? No not necessarily. Beowulf has a braid that allows us to rewrite what we know about epic epics, and it starts from the top and slowly descends. This is the most important feature that distinguishes Beowulf from others, this distinguishing mark being its unusual scheme / format. The epic is written in such a way that the deaths that will be described in 100-200 words in normal novels are said and passed in 2 strings in this epic. It's all equal to the author, the death of Grendel, the death of Grendel's mother, even the death of Beowulf. And so the story is quickly told.

I did enjoy the Seamus translation but the promise of a radical new translation is enticing and I look forward to reading it with this classic reread now so recently behind me. ( )
  modioperandi | Jun 8, 2020 |
Seamus Heaney does a good job of modernizing the old text. The story itself is often exciting and visceral, but the characters don't hold much interest. ( )
  peterbmacd | May 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 244 (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 (115 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beowulf Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lehnert, MartinEditormain authorsome 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

Is contained in

Is retold in

Has the adaptation

Is abridged in


Has as a study

Has as a commentary on the text

Has as a student's study guide

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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)
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)
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.
Reserve this for dual-language texts (Anglo-Saxon and modern English) regardless of translator.
This is an unabridged translation of Beowulf, and should NOT be combined with abridged editions, regardless of translator.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

No library descriptions found.

Book description
AR 10.4, 5 Pts
Haiku summary
Fear falls on the hall:
monster meets match in hero;
mother waits at home.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.82)
0.5 7
1 82
1.5 17
2 225
2.5 38
3 760
3.5 129
4 1123
4.5 133
5 947

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

University of Texas Press

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

» Publisher information page

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 147,954,033 books! | Top bar: Always visible