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Beowulf a New Verse Translation Bilingual Edition Paperback – Mar 6 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Reprint edition (March 6 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393320979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393320978
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

[Heaney] has made a masterpiece out of a masterpiece. — Andrew Motion (The Financial Times)

Accomplishes what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right. — New York Times Book Review

How did he do it? How did Seamus Heaney fashion verses, singularly handsome verses that not only capture the somber grandeur and mythic vigor of the Anglo-Saxon original, but also reflect the rhythm and timbre of the English we speak today.... This newborn translation makes accessible to everyone the first supremely great poem to be written in the English language. — Colin Campbell (Christian Science Monitor)

Mr. Heaney's translation beats with a recurring pulse, from homely and concrete to elevated and back again. The great battle scenes are rendered with a power and a grisly horror both increased and made oddly transparent by a freshness and innocence of diction.... In sustaining contrast is the lyricism, quiet yet immediate, of the small passages. — Richard Eder (New York Times)

As vivid as a tabloid headline and as visceral as a nightmare. Heaney's own poetic vernacular... is the perfect match for the ?Beowulf? poet's Anglo-Saxon. Heaney uses this idiom not to modernize the epic but to showcase it's surprisingly contemporary feel.... As retooled by Heaney ?Beowulf??should easily be good for another millennium. — Malcolm Jones (Newsweek)

Magnificent, breathtaking.... Heaney has created something imperishable and great that is stainless—stainless, because its force as poetry makes it untouchable by the claw of literalism: it lives singly, as an English language poem. — James Wood (The Guardian)

Excellent . . . has the virtue of being both dignified and sophisticated, making previous versions look slightly flowery and antique by comparison. His intelligence, fine ear and obvious love of the poem bring ?Beowulf?alive as melancholy masterpiece, a complex Christian-pagan lament about duty, loss and transience. . . . Heaney has done it (and us) a great service. — Claire Harman (Evening Standard)

About the Author

Seamus Heaney (1939—2013) was an Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born at Mossbawn farmhouse between Castledawson and Toomebridge, County Derry, he resided in Dublin until his death.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Actually Grendel did not say that. However this translation is something that you can sink your teeth in. There is a substantial introduction. At first you think it is too long. After reading the introduction you realize it is too short and knowing more about what Seamus Heaney accomplished, you wish half the book were the introduction. In the introduction He covers references to J.R.R. Tolkien's ""Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", the average readers needed background knowledge and the reason he chose the particular words for this translation.
It is the words he chose to use and method of applying them that makes this translation palatable to the average reader. It may also be this translation that may grate on some people. This is like comparing the King James Version of the Bible to the Good News Bible. (However he is not transliterating or paraphrasing) The main idea is that this would be the translation if you were to verbalize the saga.
This is not just an early poem; it is an epic. The basic story was also used as a basis of many movies. We have people helping others in what appears to be a no win situation.

There are 200 plus pages with the original text on the left page. The text is numbers to correspond with numbers on the translated right page. On the far right is a synopsis of what you are reading. This synopsis helps keep you from wandering from the text to speculate on what is really being said. It does not hurt to listen to this book but the written word is crucial towards finding the origins of names and the way words are used.

At the end of the book is a diagram of the family trees and this helps visualize how the different clans are related. There is also a large print version so you do have to get out your magnifying glass.
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Format: Paperback
The story comes full cycle with the death of Beowulf and the homage paid to him by his people. On a grim note, the story-teller who has been reciting the saga of Beowulf also forsees the end of Beowulf's people - the Geats. The Geats were people who supposedly occupied the lower half of Sweden and were either killed or driven from their homeland by the Swedes. Many claim that the Wuffing dynasty of Denmark was set up by fleeing Geats, but nothing is known for sure.

Heaney is able to make us aware of the fickle nature of life using the stories of the rise and fall of even great, mythical warriors. He evokes wonder and pity for the same character by judicious use of imagery that will stay with you long after you have put down the book.
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Format: Audio CD
I was really looking forward to listening to this, and found myself very disappointed. Anglo-Saxon is a language of concrete nouns, active verbs, things happening and things being shown. Instead we have Heaney using such extremely trite phrases as, "Without further ado." Can you see Beowulf doing something without further ado? Of course not; Beowulf just does. Then there was the use of the phrase, "Desperate affair," to describe Beowulf's fight with Grendel. Desperate affair? This does not sound like the way to describe the process of tearing off a Neanderthaloid monster's arm with your bare hands.
Heaney's reading voice is frankly not very impressive, and coupled with the translation, made for a disappointing experience.
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Format: Audio CD
This excellent book is fatally tarnished by the way in which it was put onto CD. The modern translation, the substance (needless to say), and the reading all are great. My rating of 1 star is attributable solely to the abysmal decision to put this work on two audio CDs with no internal track divisions.
Audio CDs, such as this, are generally listened to in the automobile. If, like me, you have an older CD player in the car (or if you happen to switch cars, like my children do in their commute to and from school), you have no easy way to get back to where the story stopped if your drive is shorter than the CD.
The formatting decisions serve to make this CD nearly worthless--even though I have a forty-minute drive.
Very disappointing.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Feb. 23 2014
Format: Paperback
In ancient Anglo-Saxon culture, a "sceop" was a storyteller. A sceop might not be telling a story of his own, but he tells it with grace, elegance and power.

It seems like an appropriate title for Seamus Heaney, whose translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem "Beowulf" has become a modern classic in its own right. His elegant use of language helps smooth out many of the translation bumps, without losing the distinctive, almost singsong rhythm of the original poem -- and the original Old English text allows you to compare and contrast.

A creature named Grendel is attacking the beautiful mead-hall of Heorot, sneaking in at night to carry off and/or kill innocent people. King Hrothgar is powerless to stop the monster. But then Beowulf, an already-legendary hero from Geatland, arrives at Heorot specifically to kill Grendel -- and using only his superhuman strength, he is able to arm-wrestle Grendel to death.

But that isn't the end of his troubles. Grendel's equally grotesque mother is enraged by her child's death, and attacks Heorot to lure Beowulf out. This time, he'll be fighting on HER turf, and the legendary hero might not survive. And as the years go by, he's faced with a terrible new enemy, one that threatens his homeland and everyone in it...

"Beowulf" is revered as one of the oldest works of Anglo-Saxon literature, and it deserves the reverance. But the poem is a lot more than just an old story -- it's a gripping adventure story, and it's also a glimpse of a culture that was pretty much stamped out with the Norman invasion. It's a culture of boasting, blood, honor, friendship and "ring-giving," where ancient pagan cultures are enmeshed in new Christian beliefs.
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