Jason Gignac's Reviews > Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

Beowulf by Unknown
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Jun 01, 09

bookshelves: fill-in-the-gaps

Okay, so... I understand, Beowulf is like at the root of the English literary tradition. I know, it's totally different from poetry now, that it is supposed to be alliterative instead of rhyming (which admittedly, is really interesting), I know that people in the whatever-century had a far different culture from us today. So, don't take this as some sort of judgement of Mr. Anonymous, who has, after all, contributed so much to the world.

Only, the thing is, I really didn't like this book.

I mean, the Iliad? Sure, it was all about people getting together to kill each other, I know, but at least those people wer einteresting people - and the poeple on both sides had personalities. I can only take so many pages of bloody baldrics held by mighty earls o'er their high=plumed helms before I just get a little irritated. I mean, I don't totally agree with the moral lessons of Homer, but the only moral lesson of Beowulf, to me, seems to be that you should be loyal to your relations - which in the book, means, you should either kill or get blood money from anyone who kills your people. OK, so whatever, but SERIOUSLY, there has GOT to be more than life, even in Old Scandinavia, then that.

I don't mean to imply there was NOTHING good. The constant theme of death coming for all men, the structure of the battles, where we see what it is to fight as a young whelp looking for glory, then what it is to fight as on old man trying to live out your days in peace... sure that had soem merit. This doesn't descend to the level of Scrappy-Doo Badness that say... the White Worm did (shudder). But anyway. Bleagh. And I LIKE epic poems! Still, bleagh!
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