Beowulf: An Updated Verse Translation (Perennial Classics)
Not in United Kingdom? Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. The acclaimed verse translation of the timeless epic tale of bravery and battle--the enduring saga of the hero Beowulf and the monster Grendel--the first true masterpiece of English literature. Renditions in modern English haven't taken the poetry of the original very seriously--but what a shock now that someone has! With the subtle rules of alliteration, stress, and pause in place--and with a translator bold enough to invent his own vigorous and imaginative compound nouns--the poem suddenly takes flight and carries us to the highest mountains of achievement.
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Make it beautiful or make it bloody. One thing is for sure. Beowulf can never be boring. Some very nice addition sto the Mitchell translation are the addition of maps, genealogical charts and a list of characters and place names with pronunciations. He keeps the feel of the original texts and is absolutely astounding at modernizing ancient texts without diverting from the original. Warrior Beowulf saves the Danes from the monster Grendel and then Grendel's mother and then many years later does battle against a dragon guarding a hoard of gold. I loved reading this. The poetry of the Heaney translation is very vivid and flowing, and creates a great atmosphere of fighting and carousing and boasting warriors and epic battle against mythical beasts.
The story is dark and sometimes gruesome, and it is not at all hard to imagine the poem being recited around the fire by Anglo-Saxon warriors, passing round the cup of mead as the tale unfolds. This translation of Beowulf is excellent. It captures the spirit of the poetry without becoming too dense to read. I had read excerpts of the story for various classes and never enjoyed it.
It is definitely something that you have to read the entire thing to find interesting. 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. 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 Many reviewers say this isn't the best translation of Beowulf; I wouldn't know as it is the only one I've read.
I think Mr. Heaney has written an accessible translation that brings the imagery of the times to life and shows well aspects of Viking society, such as the loyalty to kings, the importance of rewarding your men, and the need to prove yourself brave and valiant. I am not surprised this has become a standard text for these reasons. By far my favorite translation, although the least faithful to the original text. Heaney was particularly good at preserving the alliteration, rhythm, and feeling of a fast-paced oral poem.
It's not a perfect translation. Sometimes he added more archaic words to the mix like his translation "tarn-hag" for mere-wif, when water-witch would do just as well; or "keshes" for fen-gelad, when I think just saying fen paths gives all the meaning one needs , which on the one hand, adds to the feel of the poem, but on the other, rather obscures the meaning. But this translation also has a beautiful mastery of metaphorical language, and an ability to convey mood and emotion like no other translation I've come across.
An excellent example of this is lines On a height they kindled the hugest of all funeral fires; fumes of woodsmoke billowed darkly up, the blaze roared and drowned out their weeping, wind died down and flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house, burning it to the core. They were disconsolate and wailed aloud for their lord's decease. A Geat woman too sang out in grief; with hair bound up, she unburdened herself of her worst fears, a wild litany of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded, enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles, slavery and abasement.
Heaven swallowed the smoke. A fitting end to Beowulf the hero and king, and a wonderful read for any fan of epic tales. Four stars, only because it's not as amazing as Tolkien's translation, which I read right before this version. I read them back-to-back, for comparison. I've read other translations before, but I don't recall which ones specifically. This one, the Heaney translation, is apparently the standard in today's college classes.
It wasn't yet published last time I read 'Beowulf. Tolkien's language and imagery is both vivid and elevated; and gives the reader the feeling of a glimpse into the past. Heaney apparently admitted that he sacrificed literal accuracy to his desire to keep the poem a poem - to maintain a certain 'alliteration and rhythm. For me, the Heaney lies between two of Tolkien's versions.
Tolkien did his accurate, scholarly translation. But he also wrote his own poem or 'lay' based on Beowulf - which is true, musical poetry.
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Both work amazingly at being the best possible iteration of what they are. A faithful translation. A heart-moving poem. Heaney's translation - while it is undoubtedly better than many others - is sometimes awkward rather than gloriously archaic. Still; had I not read the other version directly preceding it, I probably would've given 5 stars.
Words cannot express my hatred for this book. I've been forced to read it 3 times throughout high school and college. If I'm ever forced to read it again, I may have to poke my eyes out. Seriously, I hate it that much. A fun read with a distanced narrative that reduces tension. Written in Eng. Read Samoa Nov This was not as quick a read as I had anticipated, based upon its length, nor was it an easy undertaking. However, it was worth all the effort I expended to read, and understand this ancient poetry. I plan to keep and reread this classic. It tells of Beowulf, a great hero among the Geats, who travels to assist the Danish king Hrothgar in defeating a monster that has been killing and eating his warriors.
I won't discuss the poem's plot or content here, as plenty of summaries are available elsewhere.
I will briefly comment that the plotline was solid and Beowulf was both moral and heroic, even by modern standards, which was contrary to my expectations. I anticipated a meandering plot and glorification of violence against humans, which were both features of the "Saga of the Volsungs," an Icelandic epic about the warrior Sigurd that dates from several hundred years after Beowulf.
I picked the translation by Seamus Heaney after researching all of the in-print options, including one by J. Tolkien released in Heaney has translated the poem into verse, and he provides a lengthy introduction to the work that includes some details on choices he made in the course of translation. He has done a marvelous job: the text is exciting and flows smoothly and naturally. It is comfortable to read, and it goes quickly maybe a few hours of reading , as the poem is not overly long.
I can unhesitatingly recommend "Beowulf" to fans of old legends and myths, as well as to modern Fantasy readers and even gamers who like Norse-inspired settings. It is easy to see how Beowulf has influenced modern works such as "The Hobbit" particularly as pertains to the dragon Smaug and computer games such as the "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" which is set in a Norse-inspired fantasy world, complete with a king named Hrothgar in a Heorot-like mead hall.
I read at least portions of Beowulf years ago in school, perhaps even in elementary school if my foggy memory is reliable. Halloween seemed like a good time to revisit this epic monster tale. I chose the translation by renowned poet Seamus Heaney. His translation is very readable for this generation, except for the names, which he couldn't do much about. The meaning is clear, and I rarely had to re-read passages to tease out their meaning. My only quibble is that Heaney used too many modern idioms and expressions.
Beowulf predates Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and other modern sources of commonly used expressions. Frederick Rebsamen. Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title The acclaimed verse translation of the timeless epic tale of bravery and battle--the enduring saga of the hero Beowulf and the monster Grendel--the first true masterpiece of English literature. From the Back Cover : A verse translation of the first great narrative poem in the English language that captures the feeling and tone of the original.
Buy New View Book. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. New Paperback Quantity Available: Seller Rating:. Beowulf Format: Paperback Rebsamen, Frederick. Published by Harper Collins Publishers.
Published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics.