One From the Archive: ‘Beowulf’ by Anonymous ****

2013 has been a great year for me in terms of reading old works.  I have ploughed through the Collected Works of William Shakespeare, becoming engrossed in all of those plays which I had not before read or studied.  I then chose to read The Iliad by Homer whilst on holiday in Menorca in September, and it surprised me that I so adored it.  For my last challenge of the year, I decided to give Beowulf a go.  It is a book which I probably should have read before going off to study English at University, but it was something which I never got around to.  Better late than never, I say.

‘Beowulf’, translated by Seamus Heaney

Beowulf is an Old English poem, and a wonderfully crafted one at that.  Whilst I did not read the pictured version, translated by Seamus Heaney, and opted instead for a free e-book, I was surprised at how easy the entirety was to read.  I am sure that a lot of people know this story already, since several film adaptations have been made which are either entirely or rather loosely based upon the storyline in the original.  If not, however, Beowulf deals with a monster named Grendel.  Beowulf, a hero of the Geats in Scandinavia, aids Hrodgar, the King of the Danes, whose ‘mead hall’ has been under attack by the monster.  The story goes on from here accordingly.

The scene is set immediately, both in terms of the physical geography and the social context.  The scenes created are so very vivid, particularly those which deal with battles.  The pace of the poem is fantastic, and the plot is very easy indeed to follow.  I did not quite fall in love with Beowulf as I did The Iliad, but I am beginning to really love epic poetry.

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