Beowulf Paperback – Feb 11 1977
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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
From the Publisher
This presentation of the translation and the Old English Text on facing pages allows the reader to approach the first major poem in English literature in a fresh and exciting new way. Includes a Guide to Reading Aloud, Introduction, Commentary and notes for translation from the original.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
As a British national epic, the advertising blurb for "Beowulf" could read something like this: "From the culture (and era) that brought you the English language, the Sutton Hoo burial ship and the setting for Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom series comes... a poem about a mythical Scandinavian hero." Basically, "Beowulf" is a darned old (over 1,000 years) Anglo-Saxon poem set down on sheepskin vellum in England ca. 750-1035 A.D. (accounts differ on the dating), likely by monks in a monastery recording an even older oral poem while interweaving it with Christian elements. Aside from being the English language's oldest surviving poem, the story -- broadly, about the legendary exploits of a glory-seeking Geatish monster fighter who becomes king and dies fighting a dragon -- provides the touchstone for everything from ...Read more ›
Professor Chickering provides a wonderful guide to reading the Old English version out loud, which is a lot of fun to try. He also provides important context giving background of the poetic structures from the old times and what we benefit from noticing as we read this exciting tale.
He also provides background material on the manuscript and what we know about the origins and culture that gave rise to Beowulf. There is also a wonderful commentary on many key concepts in the story that enrich the reading of the story.
There is also a bibliography for further reading and a listing of glosses on selected passages.
Yes, the Seamus Heaney translation is beautiful and readable, but this one is much more useful for the student who wants to dig more deeply into the story and how it fits into our cultural heritage.
There are several different sections in this book, besides the text of the poem itself. There are technicial discussions on the poetry itself, and a guide to pronounciation. At the rear of the book are discussions of the historical context of the poem, both internal to the poem and external in the world. A lengthy commentary of the poem follows, then a bibliography, and finally a line-by-line glossary of some of the major sections of the poem.
The part that caught my eye was the "dual langauge" edition. The main text consists of the Anglo-Saxon version on the left-handed pages, and a modern English translation on the right-handed pages. The author states that alliteration in the translation was not a concern, and sometimes the translation does not follow the original word-for-word. Within each numbered five-line block, the translation does follow the original, so it's not too hard to follow both the original and the translation.
As a final comment, Caedmon Audio produces an audio edition read by Bessinger, and I find this is to be an excellent compliment to the book.
Most recent customer reviews
Useful for learning Old English. Get a copy of Beowulf read in Anglo-Saxon on CD in order to help you speak Anglo-Saxon. It is lovely, but hard to speak. Read morePublished on June 11 2003 by Wyatt Kaldenberg
After reading about the immense influence of Beowulf on Tolkien in "Celebrating Middle-Earth", I reread it in this translation. It is powerful and moves along rapidly. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2003 by Reader in NC
Professor Chickering of Amherst College was my professor a few years back and he never even mentioned his extraordinary translation of Beowulf to our class! Read morePublished on April 10 2000
Can't find Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf? Buy this one. It's better. While Heaney's tranlslation is lyrical and poetic, with a distinct Gaelic flavor, Chickering's... Read morePublished on April 2 2000
This is certainly the finest translation of Beowulf, one that captures the craggy, monumental quality of the original Old English and yet conveys the elegiac tone so characteristic... Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2000