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Beowulf

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3.46  ·  Rating details ·  271,878 ratings  ·  7,840 reviews
Beowulf is a major epic of Anglo-Saxon literature, probably composed between the first half of the seventh century and the end of the first millennium. The poem was inspired by Germanic and Anglo-Saxon oral tradition recounting the exploits of Beowulf, the hero who gave his name to the poem. Here, it's transcribed as a verse epic, onto which are grafted Christian additions ...more
Paperback, Bilingual Edition, 245 pages
Published February 17th 2001 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 900)
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Jonathan Farley I learned Old English especially to read it. I dip into it regularly and probably reread it at least once every two years or so.
Holly I found listening to the audio book to be very entertaining and relatively quick (about two hours). I listened to the version by Seamus Heaney. Person…moreI found listening to the audio book to be very entertaining and relatively quick (about two hours). I listened to the version by Seamus Heaney. Personally, I found his Irish accent to add to the story even though it was more a Northern European tale than English. (less)

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Michael
Nov 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
*bum bum* IN A WORLD . . . *bum bum* . . . FULL OF NASTY MONSTERS . . . *bum bum* . . . WHO EAT PEOPLE AND BREAK INTO CASTLES . . . *bum bum* . . . THE BEASTLY GRENDEL LURKED LONG OVER THE MOORES . . . *bum bum* . . . BUT NOW . . . *Cut to scene of monster ripping someone's face off with his teeth*

(silence. black screen.)

*Unknown warriors approaching*

"Who are ye, then, ye armed men,
mailed folk, that yon mighty vessel
have urged thus over the ocean ways,
here o'er the waters?"


*bum bum* . . . ONE M
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”One of these things, as far as anyone ever can discern, looks like a woman; the other, warped in the shape of a man, moves beyond the pale bigger than any man, an unnatural birth called Grendel by country people in former days. They are fatherless creatures, and their whole ancestry is hidden in a past of demons and ghosts. They dwell apart among wolves on the hills, on windswept crags and treacherous keshes, where cold streams pour down the mountain and disappear under mist and moorland.”

 photo Beowulf20Heaney_zpsamhndnds.jpg

I
...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
As a college English major, I studied Beowulf without any great enthusiasm; my real love was for the Romantic poets. And Chaucer, but that might have been partly because I thought it was hilarious that we were studying such bawdy material at BYU. Plus you can still puzzle out The Canterbury Tales in its original Middle English, with the help of a few handy annotations, while Beowulf in the original Old English--other than the immortal (at least in my mind) line "Bēowulf is mīn nama"--is beyond a ...more
Anne
I vaguely remembered reading this in 7th grade and thought it might be fun to grab the audio version of one of the most important works of Old English literature.
I listened to this twice the other day and then realized a funny thing:
Beowulf is basically every 80's action movie ever made.

description

It's true. Hear me out before you start shaking your head no.
The entire story centers around one guy wanking around the known world and loudly bragging about himself at every opportunity. He's the ultimate He-Ma
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Beowulf, Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet

Beowulf is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important works of Old English literature.

The date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025.

The author was an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, referred to by scholars as the "Beowulf poet".

The story is set in Scandinavia. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to
...more
Lea
“The gap of danger where the demon waits is still unknown to you. Seek it if you dare.”

Written by an Unknown author, Beowulf is the most famous work of Old English literature - a mythical epic that influenced J.R.R. Tolkien and the whole fantasy genre. Beowulf is a heroic epic about a Germanic hero, a Christian vision of a pagan heroic life - in which epic hyperbole exaggerates stories of individuals and creates a cult of warrior heroism. In a lot of ways, Beowulf is an ultimate monomyth as
...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: assholes, dickless pieces of shit, dumbfucks, douchebags
If I wrote a list of things I don't give a shit about, I'm pretty sure "some big fucking monster whose name sounds like a word for the area between my balls and my ass that attacks alcoholics and is eventually slain by some asshole, told entirely in some ancient form of English that I don't understand" would be near the top (for the record, run-on sentences would not. Judge not).

This was one of the first books I was ever assigned to read in high school, and I'm pretty sure it was the catalyst to
...more
James
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beowulf is thought to have been written around the year 1000 AD, give or take a century. And the author is the extremely famous, very popular and world renowned writer... Unknown. Got you there, didn't I? LOL Probably not... if you're on Goodreads and studied American or English literature, you probably already knew this is one of the most famous works without an author.



It was first really published in the 1800s, using the Old English version where many have translated it, but there are still so
...more
Brett C(urrently deployed...can't read too much)
This is a reread from my high school days. It was fun to reengage with this epic poem. This particular edition is bilingual with Old English on the left and modern English on the right. So technically that cuts the book length in half but does not take away from the story. The poem blends lots of elements of fictional, historical reference, and elements of legends. There are even Biblical allusions of Cain, making him a monster “pained by the sounds of joy.” Beowulf, son Ecgtheow, goes to aid of ...more
Seth T.
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just finished reading Beowulf for the third time! But lo, this reading was in the bold and exciting Beowulf: a New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney! And what a difference a day makes - Heaney is unstoppable! Rather, he makes Beowulf unstoppable. Unstoppable in his ability to pound you in the face with his manliness and leave you bleeding-but-strangely-desiring-more.

As I said, I've read the epic Anglo-Saxon poem several times now, but usually, I'm trudging through to get to the "good parts
...more
Loretta
I was always quite intimidated by this book. I'm not sure why. Now I realize that my being intimidated by a book, especially by this one, was just ridiculous. What a fabulous, fabulous book! I just loved everything about it! The poetry, the story! Five big ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️'s all the way! ...more
Ruby Granger
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I really don’t think I started Beowulf in the right mindset, and for the first 20 pages I actually wasn’t enjoying it very much at all.
I think this was because I started reading with certain expectations — namely in terms of style, for I am familiar with Seamus Heaney’s poetry. I was put off because, I think, it was not what I was anticipating. There were only a few lines whose construction I really stopped to pool over.
But — game changer — then I listened to the piece read in the original old
...more
Alok Mishra
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an epic should be... a valiant epic that will relish the joys of poetry at the hands of the translator who has made it possible once more. I enjoyed reading it many times but a free-fall into the chasm of poetry was even more interesting and enlightening.
Alex
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: literally all white men
Beowulf and his drunk meathead friends are having a loud party, and their neighbor Grendel comes over like hey guys, can you keep it down? - that's funny because actually he eats a bunch of them - and then Beowulf tears his fuckin' arm off and nails it above his door, and honestly nobody really comes out of this looking like a good neighbor, do they?



So like Humbaba in Gilgamesh, or Odysseus’s cyclops, Polyphemus, we have a monster of questionable monstrosity. Because Beowulf started this fight,
...more
J.G. Keely
May 24, 2007 rated it liked it
There are different ways to translate, and it comes down to what you want to get across. Most creative authors have such a strong voice and sense of story that they will overwhelm the original author. As Bentley wrote of Pope's Iliad: "It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer".

Sometimes this sort of indirect translation is useful in itself, such as during the transition of the Renaissance from Italy to Britain. Many of the British poets rewrote Italian sonnets into English,
...more
Briar's Reviews
I had to read Beowulf for my British Literature class, and my goodness was it one excellent read! I had heard vicious rumours that Beowulf was difficult to read and rather boring, and they were all wrong. I found Beowulf to be an exciting epic that grasped my attention better than Games of Thrones or the Witcher ever did. I was truly blown away and really loved reading into this story. It did help having an English Professor walking us through some of it, but either way it was marvellous.

Beowulf
...more
Jonathan O'Neill
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology-folk
Michael Alexander’s Beowulf - 4 ⭐
Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf - 3.5 ⭐


Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon Epic poem and the greatest surviving work of literature in Old English. It survives as one part of a manuscript known as the Nowell Codex, copied in the early 11th Century by an unknown scribe. The age of the original composition is also unknown. I read Michael Alexander’s translation in-tandem with that of Seamus Heaney, both are unabridged Verse Translations, so this will be a comparative review of sorts.
...more
Spencer Orey
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the Seamus Heaney recording on a dark stormy day. It was fantastic.
Simona B
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, in-english
"But generally the spear
is prompt to retaliate when a prince is killed,
no matter how admirable the bride may be."


I'm astounded by the complexity of this poem. It makes me wish my Germanic philology course lasted forever so we could analyse it word by word, slowly, meticulously, languidly. This is why I personally suggest reading it with the help of a critical guide if you haven't the faintest idea what the poem is about, when and in what cultural context it was written, about the debate about it
...more
Michael
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I teach Beowulf in my honors class, and it's a tale I've always loved. There's something about the raw power, the direct yet engaging storyline, the rhythm and tone of the story that draws the reader (or, ideally, the listener) into another world. The social conventions, alien in many ways to our modern mindset, show a world both brutal and honorable, where death and heroism go side-by-side, where every act has consequence and there is no expectation of joy and happiness—these things have to be ...more
Lyn
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Like many readers, I first encountered Beowulf as a young student, then later as a college student. The writing seemed old and tired and, though the subject was adventurous, having to read to it in the context of an English lesson drained most of the life out of it.

Seamus Heaney’s 2001 translation from the Old English breathes some new life into the ancient tale. We still have Grendel and his mom and later the dragon when our hero is an old king and not long for this world, but Heaney’s prose is
...more
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I don't know who this "anonymous" guy is but he sure does write some fantastic books. I'll be sure to check his books his other stuff in future.

Image result for beowulf artwork
...more
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
A DANISH KING, A BRAVE HERO, TWO MONSTERS AND A DRAGON - IF THAT DOESN'T SPELL EPIC, I DON'T KNOW WHAT DOES!

✨ Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019✨
✨✨A book set in Scandinavia✨✨

Now. I might be biased here - I am Danish and most of this story takes place in Denmark - but this was truly an epos! I am not usually into poems, but this one actually moved me.

"[...] Beowulf and fear were strangers; he stood ready to dive into battle."


THE GOOD STUFF

Writing: It is not easy to make a battle sound a
...more
Aubrey
I doubt I would have liked this so much had The Lord of Rings not been such an essential part of me so early on. Books are the one and only thing that has been mine and my own since the beginning, and the rings, the dragons, the songs of days long lost and the coming of the end have filled the place of me that religion never could. While there is much to critique, it has sunk so deeply into my resonance that the best I can do is hope that everyone has such a refuge in their heritage as I do in E ...more
Riku Sayuj
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Could not consider the experience complete without reading Heaney's acclaimed translation. The acclaim was well deserved. This version was much easier to read, less choked by stylistic anachronisms and more alive in every sense. Gummere's translation has an elegance and presence that intimidates and exalts the reading but Heaney brings it home, makes it as familiar as Homer's epics and somehow makes us at ease with the strange manes and the stranger tides.
...more
persephone ☾
the way these men were so obsessed with their swords that they went as far as naming them will never not be funny to me
Francisco
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beowulf - you might have encountered it at a college English class. Your teacher may have written a few of the original lines of Old English on the blackboard and had you try to decipher them. There was probably lots of history taught in that class: the poem was written by an Anglo-Saxon poet some time between the 8th and the 11th century. The poet, a Christian, wrote about events taking place in "heathen" England two or three centuries before. If your English class was anything like mine there ...more
may ➹
very interesting history, very boring story… if I ever met Beowulf in real life I would punch him the moment he opened his mouth!
Manny
Oh, how I wish I had written this poem, which I found reproduced in Henry Beard's Poetry for Cats!

Grendel's Dog, from BEOCAT

by the Old English Epic's Unknown Author's Cat*

Brave Beocat, | brood-kit of Ecgthmeow,
Hearth-pet of Hrothgar | in whose high halls
He mauled without mercy | many fat mice,
Night did not find napping | nor snack-feasting.
The wary war-cat, | whiskered paw-wielder,
Bearer of the burnished neck-belt | gold-braided collar band,
Feller of fleas | fatal, too to ticks,
The work of wonde
...more
Piyangie
Said to have composed between the seventh and tenth century, Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon Epic poem. Named after its hero, Beowulf, a prince and later the King of the Geats, this poem recounts his heroic adventures. It begins with Beowulf coming to the aid of Hrothgar, the King of Danes, whose kingdom has come under the attack of a monster named Grendel. Beowulf successfully defeats the monster and his mother who comes to avenge his death. Later in life when Beowulf is the King, his kingdom is terr ...more
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Epic Poems Read A...: Beowulf Read Along 25 45 Jan 22, 2022 08:32AM  
Epic Poems Read A...: Background on Beowulf! 1 15 Dec 30, 2021 05:27AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine/merge this edition with the many others 3 14 Oct 02, 2021 07:16AM  
Classics and the ...: * Background and Translations 119 101 Sep 29, 2021 07:07PM  
Classics and the ...: * Week 8: Beowulf's Funeral 44 45 Jul 27, 2021 08:53PM  
Classics and the ...: * Week 7: The Death of Beowulf 77 40 Jul 22, 2021 10:43AM  
Classics and the ...: * Week 1: Beginnings 105 76 Jul 15, 2021 10:12PM  

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Books can be attributed to "Unknown" when the author or editor (as applicable) is not known and cannot be discovered. If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using "Unknown".

Books whose authorship is purposefully withheld should be attributed instead to Anonymous.
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“It is always better
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For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.”
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