Xabier Cid's Reviews > Beowulf

Beowulf by Unknown
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Jan 15, 11

Read from January 06 to 14, 2011

Even if the story has some captivating moments —or at least some captivating moments for freak people loving old epics— I couldn't enjoy this work as it probably deserved. The reason for that is the Galician translation, what I deeply disagree with.

I am not intending to say that the translation is not accurate, because I hardly can write in English, let alone to give my opinion about Anglo-Saxon translations. My reluctance is related with the Galician result. Translator's decision was to write a work in verse, but it should be told that breaking the lines after getting the right half of a page does not make exactly a poem, but the rhythm does. And there is no rhythm at all in this Galician Beowulf.

Translator has chosen to recreate poetry using the same tools that a group of probably bearded people ten centuries ago, i.e., the alliteration and the repetition of characteristic phrases, something that other epic-composer peoples had done before. But our Neolatin system for creating rhythm is quite different: rhyme and number of syllables. Including three words beginning for t-, or even just two, in the same verse does not make any perceptible hum in a Contemporary reader, nor helps him/her to retain in his/her memory a list of 3182 verses. Is it a shame? Maybe, but that's how Galicians read now.

That imperative search for t-words, p-words, b-words and so on has another casualty: the very content. The epic register —Galicians have one coming from eight centuries ago— is mingled with very popular sentences, creating a quite odd mix of Galician words coming directly from the dictionary with a result lacking harmony.

I am not saying that the translator did a wrong job. His introduction is brilliant, his job was impressive, and the number of nights stolen from his family to be devoted to an obscure Medieval text could not be paid. As Galicians, we should be proud of his work, of his effort. I am only saying that, IMHO, he has taken a wrong decision about translation principles when he started his job.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Mouse You can go ahead and say it: this translation is NOT accurate. It isn't. I say this as someone very familiar with the west saxon.


Xabier Cid No. The problem that I've perceived in the translation is not related with accuracy.


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