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Beowulf: An Updated Verse Translation [Paperback]

Frederick Rebsamen

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Book Description

June 24 2004 Perennial Classics
A verse translation of the first great narrative poem in the English language that captures the feeling and tone of the original.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 24 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060573783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060573782
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.4 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #587,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Frederick Rebsamen was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual but good translation Feb. 24 2008
By Jordan M. Poss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Frederick Rebsamen's recently revised translation of Beowulf is stands out from the crowd. Having read the poem dozens of times, both in Old English and in translation, I have to say that this is certainly the most literal rendering of the poem in modern English that I've yet read.

Rebsamen states in his introduction and notes that he set out to produce a translation that would not only recreate the exciting story of the epic, but would give the reader a feel for the poetry and rhythm of the original. He has succeeded remarkably. Where most modern English editions of Beowulf are set in blank or free verse, Rebsamen follows the original four-stress pattern of Anglo-Saxon poetry and goes so far as to include the caesura or pause in the middle of each line. The language of the original also shows through very clearly. Beowulf includes scores of kennings, and Rebsamen translates many of them literally.

The translation is not without flaws, of course. Owing to the lilting, stop and start rhythms typical of Old English poetry and Rebsamen's faithful translation, the phrases sometimes seem to run over one another. The unique style also takes some time to get used to, but it's certainly worth it.

Recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing alliteration Dec 29 2009
By Mark Twain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rebsamen's Beowulf is a great translation. It's poetic and really captures the alliterative force of the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) original. Reading it aloud is pure fun and you really need to do this to experience how good Rebsamen's translation and poetry is. The 3 contemporary translations that I like most are Rebsamen's, Dick Ringler's, and Seamus Heaney's - in that order. All are fine and are qualitatively different. If you have ever tried to translate poetry from Old English or German you will understand the challenge and you'll likely agree that Rebsamen has translated in the right style and with passion.

When read aloud, this translation mesmerizing. The language is beautiful and the rhythms haunting. There is a short but insightful introduction, a glossary of names at the back, genealogies, and recommendations for further reading and study of Anglo-Saxon language, Beowulf studies, and Anglo-Saxon history. I just love this period and its literature and Rebsamen has added to the pleasure.

(For another alliterative delight, check out, "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun", by that famous Anglo-Saxonist and fantasy author, J.R.R. Tolkien)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating July 31 2013
By Viggo Lange - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a satisfaction to finally read that which I have read so much about!
I cannot judge the quality of the translation but this was a good read
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beowulf comes to life - with a small warning about the cover Feb. 17 2013
By tegthethird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After doing some research on different translations of Beowulf, I decided to read this one. I was not disappointed. Rebsamen attempts to translate the poem into modern language while still keeping the rules of alliterative verse from the original. He also includes descriptions of some of the background episodes so that the events in the poem have their full context. I'm by no means a Beowulf expert and cannot speak to the fidelity of the translation, but Rebsamen offers a good explanation of the original and his methods of translation at the beginning of the book, which seemed perfectly reasonable and acceptable to me, given what he was trying to accomplish. This translation brought the poem to life more than any excerpts that I had read in a classroom setting, and I felt compelled to read it aloud to get the full effect. An excellent choice if you are seeking to enjoy reading a modern translation of a classic without worrying too much about studying the original.

A small warning: the image given for the book and the cover of the book I actually recieved were very different. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this. My copy was white with an image of a warrior from some Italian painting spread across the front and back of the cover. It still looked attractive and I did not mind, but I can see how some people would be bothered by this.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Oct. 2 2013
By shay williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My daughter needed this book for school for her summer reading program. Could not find it at a reasonable price. Thx

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