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Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition Paperback – Feb 14 2006
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“It is everywhere vigorous. . . . Chickering enjoys the poem immensely, and this attractive attitude shines everywhere. . . . This book is valuable for its extended literary appreciations and its facing text.” –Library Journal
“A fine book. . . . The essays on poetics, social history, and structure and the notes to specific passages survey the important scholarship.” –Choice
About the Author
Howell D. Chickering, Jr., is the G. Armour Craig Professor of Language and Literature at Amherst College. His critical essays, chiefly on medieval English poetry, have appeared in such journals as The Chaucer Review, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The Kenyon Review, Philological Quarterly, PMLA, Speculum, and Viator.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I am not one of those people. I have read Beowulf in several translations as well as in the original Old English, and this is the version I would recommend. I find it to be faithful, clear, and elegant.
The Heaney Beowulf is a great book for fans of Heaney (I enjoyed it myself in that capacity). The Chickering Beowulf is a great book for fans of Old English literature.
Chickering does tend to reproduce the choppiness (to our ears) of the original text, including appositives. These are jarring at first but quickly become easy to scan. This is useful for seeing how the poem is actually laid out, although one can never say how jarring the original was to those who spoke OE.
As a study aid, Chickering's translation is generally good (that is, literal-esque), but sometimes he does take liberties, so the student should beware. As a small example, lines 753b-754a: "He on mode wearð forht on ferhðe". This is literally translated "He in (his) heart became afraid in (his) spirit." Or something like that: mode and ferhðe mean the same thing, and can variously be translated as heart, mind, spirit, soul, etc. Chickering translates this as "at heart he feared for his wretched life." This is a fine translation, but is not literal.
This may seem like small nitpicking, but if you are planning on using this text for studying Beowulf, you should at least have supplemental material. Of course you want Klaeber's Beowulf, but also handy is Alexander's Glossed Beowulf.
It is, of course, small nitpicking, and so I unreservedly recommend this translation. As I stated, the translation is generally quite faithful to the text, and is a good read. The commentary is wonderful, as is the introductory material. As a bonus, glosses to a few passages are included. Please don't take the small points I make above as any sort of complaint about this translation; it's more a warning to prospective OE students. If you want to read Beowulf, you really can't do a whole lot better than this, unless you want to learn Old English. Fully literal translations are pretty pointless, anyway: for a ridiculous example, search Google Books for "Tale of Beowulf: sometime king of the folk of the Weder Geats" by William Morris.