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Beowulf Mass Market Paperback – Jun 3 2008

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (June 3 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451530969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451530967
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 11 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the athelings won! Read the first page
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By Carole Wassill on Feb. 22 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Came in good condition and in a short time. We were replacing our copy for the english department. The english department have this book on their reading list.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Not Beowulf for Dummies ! July 5 2010
By TJam - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read Beowulf, as did countless high schoolers over the years, in my senior English class; the experience was less than memorable, due in part to my teacher's insistence on using an Old English text. When I entered college the most vivid imagery I still had was of Grendel entering the mead hall and tearing the diners limb from limb.
Had I been able to also read the text in modern English in that senior class, I would have been well-prepared to tackle the OE with a deeper understanding of how this great work acts as a foundational text for all British literature from Chaucer to the Renaissance and beyond.
Burton Raffel's clear translation allows the reader to establish a connection to the allegorical and mythological constructs without having to resort to a "Beowulf for Dummies," just to get a passing grade. I am using this book in a graduate class in Horror Text and Theory, and though I am now able to read the OE with more fluency, the accessibility of this translation situates the text in a more viable position for discussion and critical analysis in an arena populated with 20th and 21st century horror. I would recommend Raffel's Beowulf to anyone as their entree into Old English Lit.; to be read along side the original text. It takes the "horror" out of ready Horror.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
more poetic than heaney's translation May 18 2010
By Eichendorff - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Raffel's translation of "Beowulf" to me seems more vivid and poetic in its language than Seamus Heaney's now more famous one. The images he provides stand out as clear and beautiful pictures, making a deep sensory impression where Heaney's poetry seems to employ at times more abstract, at times more mundane, less inventive language. This is not to say that Heaney's translation lacks poetic beauty--it certainly does not. Yet, browsing both editions, comparing various passages, I found that Raffel's rendition almost always struck a deeper chord with me, appealing to the senses and the imagination more strongly. Raffel's translation is not available in the same beautifully bound, larger-print, dual language edition as Heaney's, yet I still find that it gives me greater reading pleasure. As to accuracy, I do suspect that Raffel might be granting himself somewhat more poetic license than Heaney does, and yet, neither translation strays significantly from the original. I prefer Robert Fitzgerald's poetic, somewhat less accurate translation of the "Odyssey" to Richmond Lattimore's for similar reasons.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Better Choice for HS Classroom Sept. 5 2012
By SupeTube - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Now that I have used both the Raffel edition and the Heaney edition, I would recommend Raffel's for the high school classroom. Raffel's edition offers a major difference that works wonders for the 9th and 10th grade psyche: short chapters. The narrative is chunked thoughtfully and facilitates reading assignments. Raffel does a great job with the syntax and though the diction is a little less interesting, the poem doesn't suffer too much there. Lastly, unless you are going to do a lot of work with the Old English available in the Heaney edition, the side-by-side format hampers class discussion, causing kids to flip more pages to find support.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Best Translation Sept. 10 2013
By Kristen Slosser - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Raffel's translation is the most readable, easiest to understand, and most honest translation available. I do not begrudge Seamus Heaney his poetry, but I find that Beowulf has already had to undergo glosses of other types in its recordings without further flowery alterations being performed on the text. The original composition/song would have been understandable and engaging for any of the warriors, villagers, or foreign guests of the Anglo-Saxon tribes: it should be equally as accessible to modern high school students and twenty-somethings. Raffel achieves this, and this translation is a steal while it remains available. If you are interested in Heaney's version of Beowulf, spend the extra money: but know that you are buying Heaney, not Beowulf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A pleasantly surprising translation June 11 2011
By Vithmers - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Barnes & Noble Classics line offers a lot of classic (or at least old) works at very reasonable prices. They manage to do this by using, by and large, editions that are out of copyright. By reducing the production costs of the books, they can reduce the price for the customers.

This approach is excellent for works that were originally written in English. B&N gets a modern scholar to pen an introduction, and maybe some notes. These are attached to the freely-available text and sold at a low price. You could download a copy for free and read it (and this would probably be the preferred method if you have an ereader device), but for those who still read paper books, you pay a small price ($5-$10) and get someone to typeset and bind it for you.

Translations of non-English works are another matter. By using an out-of-copyright translation, you miss out on modern scholarship, and you get a translation that might sound archaic (although some readers probably prefer this). I figured this would be the case with Beowulf, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that B&N had commissioned a modern translation.

John McNamara has produced a translation that is really quite good. It is very faithful to the original text, but is not literal to the point that it becomes hard to read. On the contrary, it reads very well. No attempt is made to mimic the meter of the Old English, although McNamara does make fairly frequent use of alliteration. To round it out, there is a good, brief introduction and a set of end-notes that help to clarify tricky bits of the poem, or to give some context.

In all, this is a highly recommended translation. If you're looking to read Beowulf for the first time, I would have no hesitation in recommending this version, especially (but not only) at this price. The serious Beowulf student will need extra materials, but then that's true of most Beowulf translations.

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