Nikki's Reviews > Beowulf (Broadview Literary Texts)

Beowulf (Broadview Literary Texts) by Unknown
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Oct 11, 11

bookshelves: poetry, medieval-literature, for-class, classics
Read on October 11, 2011

Had to reread Beowulf for my Tolkien class, so I thought I might as well go for a new translation. Liuzza's is very readable. I didn't want to read it aloud as much as I did Heaney's translation; on the other hand, I think I took more of it in because I wasn't focused on the poetry of it. My Anglo-Saxon is rusty, alas, so though I pulled up an online version to compare this translation with, most often I couldn't tell if I really agreed with Liuzza's choice of words. When I could tell, though, I would've gone for the same as Liuzza, which is probably a good sign (whether for my translation skills or for his is the question; it probably reflects well on me that I agree with him, rather than the other way round).

It's interesting reading it with Tolkien in mind... Worth a go, if you're a Tolkien fan. Heaney or Liuzza would probably serve you equally well in terms of a clear and fun translation. This edition includes a lot of extra stuff, which I didn't actually look at but which seems useful; the Norton Critical Edition of Heaney's translation has a similar amount of accompanying helpful material.

As for the poem itself -- well, I appreciate it a lot better now I've studied Anglo-Saxon and I know more about their history and culture. It's a lot more comprehensible with my undergraduate degree behind me. Tolkien's own essay on it, The Monsters and the Critics, is pretty illuminating too, especially when you think about seminal a piece of writing that was. I couldn't help but read it with Tolkien's voice in my ear, so to speak, particularly regarding the intentions of the writer re: Christianity/paganism. That man was pretty devastatingly smart.

I do find it a fun read, now I can relax and stop worrying about whether I need to remember So-and-So's name. After Icelandic sagas, Beowulf is easy.
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