Neil's Reviews > Beowulf: A New Translation

Beowulf by Unknown
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's review
Jul 16, 10

bookshelves: poetry, hospital
Read in July, 2010

I was really looking forward to reading this, and after finishing the introduction I was revved up even more. Heaney's love of language shine through his explanations of how he approached the translation and were captivating. His rationale for choosing specific words he'd grown up hearing because they fit better than anything else with the rhythms required and his notion that elements of the Ulster dialect were uncannily Anglo-Saxon had me intrigued and excited to see how it would work out.

I wasn't disappointed. (I even chuckled at a couple of lines which did indeed seem lifted straight out of a conversation between Irish farmers.) The translation flows beautifully, reading nothing like a translation. Nothing jars, the words all do their job at conveying the traditions and society of Beowulf's time and yet nothing feels dated or silly or contrived or ye olde worlde.

I can see myself reading this again and again.
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