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Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition Paperback – Feb 14 2006

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Product Details

Product Description


“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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 28 reviews
71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
I wish this version were the accepted standard. . . April 19 2007
By a writing teacher - Published on
Format: Paperback
This edition is widely accepted as closer to the original than Heaney's, even by people who prefer the Heaney edition.

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.
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
The best edition and translation of Beowulf around April 7 2006
By Wanda B. Red - Published on
Format: Paperback
Chickering's translation is the most responsible and accurate translation of Beowulf available. It's also the closest to the energetic poetic line of the original verse. Also, Chickering provides a remarkable sets of notes and comments about culture, history, and criticism at the back of the book. All in all, this is the text for anyone seriously interested in this poem. It beats the Seamus Heaney translation hands down.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
The scholar's version Jan. 7 2007
By Jane Steen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For someone like me who's fascinated by language, this is a great scholar's edition of Beowulf. The translation is easy to read and well synchronized with the original text. The preface and supplemental material are copious and thorough. This will be on my bookshelf for a long time.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Great Book Jan. 13 2007
By John Doe - Published on
Format: Paperback
A professional and scholarly translation. Having the Old English on one side and the modern English translation on the other is great. The notes about the style of ancient Germanic poetry, as well as notes about Old English are fascinating. The book is clear enough for beginners, but the extensive commentary (after the poem, and nearly half of the book) means that it is also a great read for experts as well. Altogether, an excellent book.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Very, very good June 2 2010
By Vithmers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This translation has been much-praised as faithful to the original Old English. I think this is taking it a bit far: Chickering does typically use four-beat lines, which is how Old English poetry is arranged, although OE poetry has specific alliteration patterns and stress patterns (however, there are so many of the latter one wonders if such patterns are actually a modern invention). For a four-beat plus alliterative (although not a mimic of OE poetry) translation, take a look at Kennedy's Beowulf.

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.