Friday, August 19, 2016

Beowulf

Severe Spoilers Ahead

Beowulf is one of the oldest English poems that survives today.  It was written in Anglo-Saxon which is the predecessor of the English we speak today.  It has been translated numerous times but did not become popular again until the famous translation by J.R.R. Tolkien was released and his lectures were given at Oxford and Leeds.

It tells the story of the ridiculously strong and brave Beowulf who comes to save a village which has been terrorized by the terrible monster, Grendel, an alleged descendant of Cain.  Beowulf strangles the monster with his bare hands (that is his preferred method) and rules over the village for awhile.  In his old age Beowulf finds Grendel's mother living in an underwater cave and kills her too.  He himself is slain in the confrontation and thus his story ends.

If you are interested in the Anglo-Saxon language, Tolkien's work translating the poem, or pre-Anglo-Norman literature in general, I would highly recommend Beowulf.

It is a challenging read, but depending on the edition that you get it can be easier.  I of course recommend Tolkien's translation with commentary from Christopher Tolkien.  There is an abundance of interesting connections that he makes as well as notes from Tolkien's various essays and lectures.

Have you read Beowulf?  What translation did you use?

Are you going to read Beowulf?  Do you have a certain translation in mind?

Comment below :)



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