Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
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Annotation: Contemporary translation of the anonymous classic with old English version on opposing pages.
Catalog Number: #27620
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
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Publisher: W. W. Norton
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition Date: 2001
Pages: xxx, 213 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-393-32097-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-95635-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-393-32097-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-95635-3
Dewey: 829
LCCN: 99023209
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
How powerful the oldest, most archetypal literary works remain, especially when newly rendered by so accomplished a hand as Northern Ireland's Nobel laureate. The story of Beowulf, who crosses the sea to slay two monsters ravishing a neighboring kingdom and then, many years later, must vanquish a dragon to save his own people, dying as he does, enthralls as surely as ever. As Heaney explains marvelously in the second part of the book's introduction, he keeps, loosely, the alliteration of the Old English original but, except when a line's natural rhythm "breaks" it in two, dispenses with its caesurae. He provides a running gloss on the plot to dispel any possible bewilderment about what is happening, and he winningly incorporates a few obscure but economical words (e.g., bawn for king's hall) that are Old English survivals in the regional English of Ulster and, Heaney found, parts of America. With the Old English text printed on lefthand pages, across from the new, this Beowulf sets a new standard for versions of the old epic.
Kirkus Reviews
Written more than a thousand years ago in the Germanic tongue from which the preNorman core of modern English is formed, Beowulf is the epic poem of the warrior hero who survived a succession of fierce trials only to languish for centuries thereafter in the entombing clutches of university scholars. <p>
Publishers Weekly
When the great monster Grendel comes to Denmark and dashes its warriors' hopes, installing himself in their great hall and eating alive the valiant lords, the hero Beowulf arrives from over the ocean to wrestle the beast. He saves the Danes, who sing of his triumphs, but soon the monster's mother turns up to take him hostage: having killed her, our hero goes home to the land of the Geats, acquires the kingship, and fights to the death an enormous dragon. That's the plot of this narrative poem, composed more than a millennium ago in the Germanic language that gave birth (eventually) to our version of English. Long a thing for professors to gloss, the poem includes battles, aggressive boasts, glorious funerals, frightening creatures and a much-studied alliterative meter; earlier versions in current vernacular have pleased lay readers and helped hard-pressed students. Nobel laureate Heaney has brought forth a finely wrought, controversial (for having won a prize over a children's book) modern English version, one which retains, even recommends, the archaic strengths of its warrior world, where """"The Spear-Danes in days gone by/ and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness."""" Well-known digressions--a detailed dirge, the tale-within-a-tale of Hengest, """"homesick and helpless"""" in ancient Friesland--find their ways into Heaney's English, which holds to the spirit (not always the letter) of the en face Anglo-Saxon, fusing swift story and seamless description, numinous adjectives and earthy nouns: in one swift scene of difficult swimming, """"Shoulder to shoulder, we struggled on/ for five nights, until the long flow/ and pitch of the waves, the perishing cold drove us apart. The deep boiled up/ and its wallowing sent the sea-brutes wild."""" Heaney's evocative introduction voices his long-felt attraction to the poem's """"melancholy fortitude,"""" describing the decades his rendering took and the use he discovered for dialect terms. It extends in dramatic fashion Heaney's long-term archeological delvings, his dig into the origins of his beloved, conflicted--by politics and place--English language. (Feb.)
Reading Level: 9.0
Interest Level: 9+
Lexile: 1090L

New York Times bestseller and winner of the Costa Book Award. Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.

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