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Beowulf

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  212,151 ratings  ·  5,914 reviews
Paperback, Bilingual Edition, 213 pages
Published February 17th 2001 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 975)
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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.…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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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  212,151 ratings  ·  5,914 reviews


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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'/>
"Who
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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.”

”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

It rained, but it was colder than what it should be to be raining. A combination of warmer atmosphere and colder temperatures on the ground produced an ice storm. It hit over the weekend so I could sit quite comfortably by my fireplace and watch out the window as the rain formed into sheets of ice on the streets and sidewalks. Power lines thickened as they became cubed in ice. Foot long and longer icicles dangled and swayed from the power lines, from the eaves of houses, from signs, from fence lines. The most affected though were the trees. The bigger the tree with the thicker branches, the more affected they would be. The ice accumulated on their branches bending and twisting them down to the ground. They became monsters, slumbering beneath an armour of ice.

I’d been thinking about rereading Beowulf for some time. This story has been a part of me for almost as long as I can remember. I read a child’s version when I was young, several times before moving on to other more adult translations. The idea of a man taking on a monster, much stronger than most men, and finding a way to defeat him was compelling mythology for my young mind. The terror of it, the monster that comes into your home and kills in the dead of the night and takes heads as trophies, left shivers in the very center of me.

Beowulf hears of a monster who is attacking the Danes. He is one of thirteen men who decide to go to the rescue of Hrothgar, King of the Danes. He goes because he needs to make a name for himself, as Buliwyf in the movie The 13th Warrior says: ” I have only these hands.” Beowulf is poor, renown for his strength, but he has no Hall to call his own and, but for this small band, no men to call him King.

”Their mail-shirts glinted, hard and hand-linked; the high-gloss iron of their armour rang. So they duly arrived in their grim war-graith and gear at the hall, and, weary from the sea, stacked wide shields of the toughest hardwood against the wall, then collapsed on the benches; battle-dress and weapons clashed. They collected their spears in a seafarers’ stook, a stand of greyish tapering ash. And the troops were as good as their weapons.”

I had spent most of the day finishing another book and, thus, had started reading Beowulf late in the evening. The wife and my Scottish Terrier had gone to bed, and I was left in the soft glow of my reading lamp. Most of the city had lost power as lines too heavy with ice had crashed down one by one. I had candles close to hand. It never crossed my mind, power or no power, that I would go to bed. Beowulf was written in Old English between 975-1025. The Seamus Heaney translation that I read had the Old English on one page and Heaney’s translation on the other page. In college, I took a Chaucer class and became a fair hand at deciphering Middle English, but looking and even pronouncing these unfamiliar words did not ring any ancient bells in my English soul. I would have had better luck reading Greek than Old English.

 photo 432a759e-bc88-48bc-b36c-24c3982405f6_zpsisuua0xk.png
1,000 year old manuscript of Beowulf.


As Beowulf grapples with Grendel and then with Grendel’s mother, I was just as enthralled with the story as I was as a wee tot. The carnage, the darkness, the uncertainty that Beowulf had to feel, despite his boasts to the contrary, all lend a fine, sharp edge to the tale. As I read, I also started to hear the sharp cracks and howls of ice heavy tree limbs separating from their trunk in much the same way as Beowulf pulls Grendel’s arm loose from his shoulder. The crash of these ice shrouded branches against the frozen ground sounded to my mind like the steel swords of the Geats banging against their metal wrapped shields.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I walked out of my back door into an alien landscape. Each individual stem of grass had frozen into a nub of ice. With every step, my boots crunched and slipped across this icy topography. Piles of limbs laid at the bottoms of the bigger trees. A small limb detached from the cottonwood tree as I stood there and made discordant music as it hit the limbs below before finally landing among its fallen, dying brethren on the ground. The younger trees, more limber, were probably fine, I told myself. They are bowed over as if in supplication to Mother Nature. Their top branches were frozen to the ground, making arches of their shapes. It was all very beautiful. I remembered reading about a party that was given for Anastasia, the Russian princess, before her life became tangled in the turmoil of revolution. The servants were outside spraying water on the trees so they would glitter with ice as the aristocracy arrived on their horse pulled, bell laden sleighs.

I went back inside and peeled off my boots and my jacket and returned to Beowulf. Another log was required for the fire, so I spent a few moments poking the remaining logs to make room for more wood. I flinched as I heard more crashes from outside. An assembly of Geats preparing for battle. When I finally settled back into my chair, Beowulf has become King of the Geats and fights battles with the greatest champions of the land. He involves himself in disagreements. ”When Eofor cleft the old Swede’s helmet, halved it open, he fell, death-pale: his feud-calloused hand could not stave off the fatal blow.”

I just loved that…feud-calloused hand. I also really liked..”your blade making a mizzle of his blood.” There are lines like that all through the story. Words unfamiliar and evocative of a different age.

Beowulf does age and does need the help of others in the end when he battles a dragon, but few men are made with the courage that he is, and they fail to help him when he needs it most. He does kill the dragon, but at the cost of his own life.

No sword blade sent him to his death,
My bare hands stilled his heartbeats
And wrecked the bone-house. Now blade and hand,
Sword and sword-stroke, will assay the hoard.”


Stormy weather requires the proper book and a proper, hot, Scottish tea laced with a few drops of Scotch whiskey. For me Beowulf, those 3,182 lines, added enchantment and necromancy to a world transforming before my eyes into something magical and unknown.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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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 anyone but scholars, ...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
...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 whe
...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" (i.e
...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.
Manuel Antão
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2001
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Pre-Arthurian-Myth: "Beowulf" by Unkwown, Seamus Heaney




(Original Review, 2001-02-20)



If you are familiar with the Hindu myth-kitty though, you may also find parallels between “Beowulf” and the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. When Jambavan spends a lot of time telling Hanuman about how great he is, to induce him to jump to Lanka in search of Sita, or Arjun surveys the arra
...more
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, right? And then Gre
...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
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 in
...more
Simona Bartolotta
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english, poetry
"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 it tells about, when it was written and what it seeks to portrait, of the deb
...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, com
...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 wrested ...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
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 sou/>:/>
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Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
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
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 Englis ...more
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
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.
Roger Brunyate
 
The Book I Thought I Knew

1. A Confession. This made a big splash it first came out in 2000. I bought it mostly for duty, but didn't read it. After all, I had studied the text in the original at University; I could even recite the opening. Surely I just needed a nudge, and it would all come back to me—so why bother with a translation?

Oh, the arrogance! When I opened this, and saw the original text on the left-hand pages, I found I could not make it out at all; I had even been misremembering t/>1./>The
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MK
This is actually the edition I'm reading, I accidentally shelved this other one with the brown cover ... don't want to 'switch' to the edition, because there's some really great info from Ian in the comments section for the brown covered edition (thanks, Ian! :) ). So I'll shelve this one too ~


---------------------------------------------


"Angelina Jolie played Grendel's mother in the 2007 film version of the story" >
src - https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-s...


*blink*
What ... ? Srsly ...class="gr-hostedUserImg">
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Terence
[Fourth read - Tolkien, ISBN 9780544570306]: Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf is not the translation that he would have wanted to appear in print. It’s the latest revision of a project he had been working on his entire professional life, published by his son, Christopher, along with notes and commentary (the latter of which, unfortunately, end about 2/3’s of the way). It’s presented in prose of a highly archaic nature but anyone familiar with the Old Professor’s work (e.g., The Lord of the Rings, etc.) shouldn’t have many ...more
Wanda
Beowulf is an interesting window into the past—specifically where Christianity and older pagan religions overlapped. It was fascinating to see the older, warrior culture being lived with an overlay of Christianity. But deeds of bravery and being able to hold your liquor whilst on the mead-bench were still valuable commodities! Modesty was not yet a virtue—a warrior was expected to declaim his exploits (a la the Norse god, Bragi, from whom we get the English verb “to brag.”)

Although I was fa
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Philip Allan
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many versions of Beowulf, but that translated by Seamus Heaney is the only one you should consider reading.

I have always loved the idea of Beowulf. The earliest ever work in English, it lies on the very edge of our cultural memory. It was written by an early Christian, but records a previous, vanished world of myth and legend, of warriors, heroes and monsters.

My first attempts to read Beowulf were not successful. It was forced on me at school – never a promising start. Lat
...more
João Fernandes
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: norse-literature
If Beowulf was a High School flick, or Blockbuster Income Idea #165 , by Hollywood

Hrothgar and his band of jocks are throwing a pool party at his new crib, and of course he didn't invite Stereotypical Hollywood Hero #5, the awkward, rejected, acne-ridden Grendel.

Grendel is hurt and tries to take revenge on the drunken, loud cool kids by calling the cops on them. Heorot PD is a bunch of incompetent idiots, so Grendel gathers all his strength and courage, goes to Heorot and beats the shit out of
...more
Tara
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. You really can’t go wrong with monster-slaying badasses, ill-disguised famewhoredom, mead-drenched partying, and heaps of cash money and sparkly treasures. Baz Luhrmann should totally turn this into an extravagant musical. I’d watch the shit out of it.
David Sarkies
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy Buffs
Recommended to David by: My book club
Shelves: fantasy
The original fantasy epic
21 May 2015

I am surprised that it has taken me so long to get around to reading this book, particularly since it isn't all that long, and also that I have been a long time fan of the fantasy epic. In fact this was one of Tolkien's major inspirations for his Lord of the Rings trilogy (and I do emphasise one, since he drew on lots of sources in crafting his fantasy epic – in particular the Nibelungenlied). Anyway, as I suggested this is pretty much your typical fantasy novel. In fact when you read about ho
...more
Daniel Chaikin
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it


My Litsy post shortly after finishing:
The end of my little peak in Anglo-Saxon lit. Shorter than I expected, less poetic than I expected too (per Heaney‘s translation). I tried to slow down and absorb it a bit, but the story just rushes through making quick work of Grendel and Mom and focusing really on the end of the Geats after Beowulf‘s death fighting a dragon in old age. Some really great touches zoomed by in a blink. Someday I should reread with some reflection. Some day.
Afraid I don't have
...more
Steve
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've read this multiple times. One of the true, original bad asses. 6 stars.

OK. Very briefly (in part because I've been very busy), the Heaney version is THE version to read if you're looking for accessibility. Who would have ever thought that such a rough and tumble read would come out so smooth? And from a poet who is all knots, rough rhythms, and peat moss. But it is. What I particularly liked were the various important speeches. Clarity is key with this version, but with lots of nice poetic
...more
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“It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
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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“Behaviour that's admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.”
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