Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell by J.R.R. TolkienThe translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication.Suitable for tablets. Some special characters may not display correctly on older devices.We recommend that you download a sample and check the Note to the Reader page before purchase.
This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendels terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup; but he rebuts the notion that this is a mere treasure story, just another dragon tale. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history that raises it to another level. The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The treasure is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.
Sellic Spell, a marvellous tale, is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the historical legends of the Northern kingdoms.
Beowulf, Authorship and Anglo-Saxon Literature
Why Bother with Beowulf?
Most editors would cringe at the thought of having a line poem coming across their desk. And more so if the poem's lines were written in Old English and in the alliterative-style. Although, by modern standards this "poem" would seem daunting and, most likely, would be turned down over and over again, the epic poem of Beowulf is still considered an important work today and the most important work of Anglo-Saxon literature. In fact, this piece is the oldest surviving work and also the oldest of any vernacular English literature. Unfortunately, no one knows who wrote this work, but it is estimated to have been written between the 8th and probably early 11th century. The poem was almost lost forever when a fire broke out in the
It is one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature , and has been the subject of much scholarly study, theory, speculation and discourse. Hrothgar is well loved by his people and successful in war. He builds a lavish hall, called Herot or Heorot , to house his vast army, and when the hall is finished the Danish soldiers gather under its roof to celebrate. Hrothgar welcomes the arrival of the Geats, hoping that Beowulf will live up to his reputation. Before retiring for the night, Hrothgar promises Beowulf great treasures if he meets with success against the monster. That night, Grendel appears at Herot, and Beowulf , true to his word, wrestles the monster bare-handed.
Allen is supportive, and has this bit of advice: "Just don't take any course where you have to read Beowulf. Yes, it's funny; those of us who, by professorial demand, have plowed through books written in other centuries know just what he means. Yet it's sad, too, that these ancient masterpieces have come to represent a form of scholastic torture. Why bother anyway? Literature isn't history, and I want to know what actually happened, not some story about unrealistic heroes who never existed. However, for anyone truly interested in history, I think there are some valid reasons to bother.
Medieval literature provides a gateway to our past
THE poem called Beowulf was composed some time between the middle of the seventh and the beginning of the 10th century of the first millennium, in the language that is today called Anglo-Saxon or Old English. It is a heroic narrative, more than three thousand lines long, concerning the deeds of a Scandinavian prince, also called Beowulf, and it stands as one of the foundation works of poetry in English. The fact that the English language has changed so much in the last thousand years means, however, that the poem is now generally read in translation and mostly in English courses at schools and universities. This has contributed to the impression that it was written as Osip Mandelstam said of The Divine Comedy "on official paper", which is unfortunate, since what we are dealing with is a work of the greatest imaginative vitality, a masterpiece where the structuring of the tale is as elaborate as the beautiful contrivances of its language. Its narrative elements may belong to a previous age but as a work of art it lives in its own continuous present, equal to our knowledge of reality in the present time. The poem was written in England but the events it describes are set in Baltic Europe, in a "once upon a time" that is partly historical.
We have heard of the thieving of the throne of Denmark, how the folk-kings flourished in former days, how those royal athelings earned that glory. And then, in the morning, this mead-hall glittering With new light would be drenched with blood, the benches Stained red, the floors, all wet from that fiend's Savage assault-and my soldiers would be fewer Still death taking more and more. Hanging high From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster's Arm, claw, and shoulder and all. Perhaps the greatest and certainly the most prolific writer in history, Anonymous reached a creative peak in ancient times with some researchers even suggesting he was the real Odd, for some reason Hollywood producers have never engaged in bidding wars to adapt epic Old English poetry for the silver screen. More strangely, they suddenly seemed to