Search Site
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.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Beowulf by Seamus Heaney

Beowulf (edition 2001)

by Seamus Heaney (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
25,116333127 (3.81)5 / 852
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)
Authors:Seamus Heaney (Translator)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2001), Edition: First Edition, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Beowulf by Beowulf Poet

  1. 264
    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. 161
    The Iliad by Homer (benmartin79)
  3. 152
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain Poet (OwenGriffiths, chrisharpe)
    OwenGriffiths: If you like Old/Middle English texts translated by great poets...
  4. 154
    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (benmartin79)
  5. 111
    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. 122
    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.
  7. 101
    The Icelandic Sagas by Magnus Magnusson (BGP)
  8. 71
    The Táin by Táin author (BGP)
  9. 82
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / Pearl / Cleanness / Patience by Gawain Poet (OwenGriffiths)
  10. 71
    The Sagas of Icelanders by Örnólfur Thorsson (chrisharpe)
  11. 40
    The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics) by Anonymous (octothorp)
  12. 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.
  13. 41
    The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley (Cecrow)
  14. 00
    Beowulf by Benjamin Bagby (gwernin)
  15. 00
    Understanding Beowulf As an Indo-European Epic: A Study in Comparative Mythology by Earl R. Anderson (questionablepotato)
  16. 14
    Opened Ground: Poems 1966–1996 by Seamus Heaney (JessamyJane)

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

» See also 852 mentions

English (320)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Tagalog (1)  All languages (328)
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
I once had to learn Anglo Saxon in order to study this in the original. I regret that I didn't apply myself to it. Whatever I learnt I've now forgotten. A shame because it would have helped me get my tongue around many of the names. It would also have helped me fully appreciate Heaney's translation. Such a treat; compelling and alive with lashings of mythic import. Heaney skilfully makes it feel like the oral story that it is, invested with lineage and recapitulations. While I love the murky sense of mead-hall there is a spareness to the poem that gives little insight into the humanity that feeds on such epics. The poem feels slightly bastardised as if sections have been omitted and others added. The Christian allusions are so completely out of place and tacked on that surely this must once have been a more ancient story. Re-told or sung in the mead-halls. Unless, it was originally a millennial attempt by Christians to fake an archaic and grounded story. So, unfairly, I've given it merely 4 stars. That said, there is something quite wonderful and enchanting about reading a thousand-year-old poem.

How many wars have been put to rest in a prince’s bed? Few. A bride can bring a little peace, make spears silent for a time, but not long.
( )
  simonpockley | Feb 25, 2024 |
I had read only a section of this epic poem about 50 years ago, when I was young and did not really grasp its significance. I chose the audio version for this "read" for a reason: Given that is believed to have been composed in the 8th century about events in the 6th century (though uncertain and surely before the beginning of the 11th century, as I learned the Beowulf manuscript is dated around 1000 A.D., and the poem was not printed until the early 19th century), it is a tale that likely would was told orally over and over before it was written down, in the tradition of the bards of those eras. It's a class good vs. evil saga involving a hero's quest and many of the other elements of a heroic tale: war, pride, courage, hubris. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
An astounding poem presenting perfectly England's northern german and nordic heritage. It is a truly epic tale that captures both history and the imagination. Its themes and ideas echo throughout the rest of English literature and fantasy. It is a story that speaks from our bones and I'm glad it now sings through mine. ( )
  Aidan767 | Feb 1, 2024 |
I read this as part of a three-night read-aloud activity at a cabin-camping event.

Friday night, we read and heard the tale of Beowulf vs. Grendel (Spoiler Alert (SA): Countless sleeping spearmen and Grendal die). The reading lasted about an hour and a half.

Saturday night we read and heard the tale of Beowulf vs. Grendel's mother (SA: Grendel's mother dies). That reading lasted about an hour.

Sunday night concluded the poetry reading with the fight between Beowulf and the Dragon. (SA - Beowulf and the dragon both die). It also took about an hour. During the height of the key battle scene, roars from the far end of the hall (gamers celebrating good fortune) added to, rather than detracted from, the drama of the scene.
The group reading experience was pure delight.

Translation Notes: The original tale would have been told aloud in a manner that spoke to the Saxons in their own story-telling tradition. It would feel modern to the original audience, but feels more ancient and rather foreign to an audience of the 21st century, speaking a different language. Most translations, like Burton Raffel's (the version I first read and still love) try to stay true to the style of language and word choice in the single surviving copy of the poem. So the translation feels wondrous, archaic, and a bit foreign.

This translator aimed their work for a different feel. This translator wanted the audience to understand and feel an immediacy, in a very contemporarily modern use of language that brings the reader into the story. It is as if someone in their circle of friends was passing on what just happened, not some musty old-fashioned geek using arcane ways of speaking to convey what some other ancient geezers had said and done.

Thus, the famous first word of the original, "Hwæt!", traditionally rendered variously as "Listen!" or "What!" or "Lo!" , in this translation is "Bro!"

1-Conversations sparked by this adventure tended to include the observation that "The original author kept throwing in digressions. He couldn't seem to tell the story without interrupting himself with a tangential story."

2- I reveal myself as a bit of a musty old-fashioned geek here, because this very modern retelling was more au courant in language usage than I am. If the slang had echoed the 1970s or 80s, I'd have understood immediately. But young people these days have their own way of talking....

Conclusion: This was an absolutely amazing way to read a book jointly with a dozen other people, as both reader and listener. It provoked fascinating conversations and provided insights into an impromptu storytelling tale.

At only three and a half hours, this was also way shorter than the modern current-events-audio book I'm in the midst of.
2 vote EowynA | Jan 16, 2024 |
Some of the language is wonderful: a great mix of modern and ancient-sounding. ( )
  danielskatz | Dec 26, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (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 (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beowulf Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, Michael J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, Sarah M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baskin, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bolton, W. F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botkine, L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brunetti, GiuseppeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chickering, Howell D.Translatorsecondary 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
Headley, Maria DahvanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heaney, SeamusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffmann, P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hube, Hans-JürgenKommentarsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hube, Hans-JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kemble, John M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirtlan, Ernest J. B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, FredericIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehmann, Ruth P. M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehnert, MartinEditorsecondary 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
Rebsamen, Frederick R.Translatorsecondary 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
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wickberg, RudolfTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
William Ellery LeonardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolpe, BertholdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolzogen, Hans vonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wrenn, C.L.Editorsecondary 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 reference guide/companion

Has as a study

Has as a commentary on the text

Has as a concordance

Has as a student's study guide

Has as a teacher's guide

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
And now this is 'an inheritance' -
Upright, rudimentary, unshiftably planked
In the long ago, yet willable forward

Again and again and again

(Seamus Heaney ed., 1999).
In memory of Ted Hughes

Seamus Heaney (1999)
To Kate, Julie, and Ben
For Brian and Blake

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

Michael Alexander (1973)
For Grimoire William Gwenllian Headley,
who gestated alongside this book,
changing the way I thought about love, bloodfeuds,
woman-warriors, and wyrd.

Maria Dahvana Headley (2020)
First words
Hwæt we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.

This book is meant to make Beowulf available as poetry who have not studied Old English (Anglo-Saxon) before and to those who have only a rudimentary knowledge of it.
Bro! Tell me we still know how to speak of kings! In the old days,
everyone knew what men were: brave, bold, glory-bound.

(translated by Maria Dahvana Headley, 2020)

Beowulf is written in the unrhymed four-beat alliteratie meter of Old English poetry.
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)
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.)
(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.

The Finnsburg fragment is NOT part of the actual Beowulf - it's a separate text that has, unfortunately, not survived if full
Please see the LT Combiners' discussion at http://www.librarything.com/topic/508... before combining the Howell Chickering translation of Beowulf with other editions of the original work on LT. Thank you.
This is NOT an abridged edition. DO NOT combine with the abridged edition by Crossley-Holland or any other abridged edition.
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
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC
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.

No library descriptions found.

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

Current Discussions

Beowulf LE coming 27 June 2023 in Folio Society Devotees

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.81)
0.5 6
1 97
1.5 20
2 264
2.5 44
3 953
3.5 147
4 1334
4.5 163
5 1112

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

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


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 201,916,252 books! | Top bar: Always visible