Beowulf is considered the finest heroic poem in Old English. It celebrates the character and exploits of Beowulf, a young nobleman and warrior, as he proves his superhuman strength and endurance. He also represents the ideal lord and vassal, rewarding his men generously and accomplishing glorious deeds to honor his king.
The narrative falls into two parts. Beowulf first rescues the royal house of Denmark from two marauding monsters; then, after having ruled his people for fifty years, he is called on to combat a dragon that is terrorizing the countryside.
The poem combines mythical elements, Christian and pagan sensibilities, and actual historical figures and events in a narrative that ranges from vivid descriptions of fierce fighting and detailed portrayals of court life to earnest considerations of social and moral dilemmas. Remarkable for its sustained grandeur of tone and its brilliance of style, it is presented here in an authoritative prose translation by Robert K. Gordon.
To supplement the full text version of Beowulf, listen to the SparkNotes Guide for Beowulf.
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While I would personally prefer the translation of Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien the Gordon translation is generally preferred and is quite excellent. Well read and presented by the reader this is a must read for those interested in early literature of the early Middle Ages. No one who's picked up at least a B.A. in English or the humanities has missed reading this classic of European literature, but it's interesting to revisit it in an audible format.
Probably the best unabridged recording of "Beowulf" available. It's the whole thing, in an old-fashioned but easily-followed translation, read with force and emotion by Robertson Dean. I have only one small quibble: the pronunciation of "Geat" is inconsistent. It's not the easiest term to pin down; in readings by different people I've heard "geet," "gat," and "gay-at." (I believe the original pronunciation was something like "yat.") I don't care which one is right, but I heard two of the three in this recording (it finally settles on "gat"). The story does ramble a bit after Grendel's mother is killed, but neither translator nor reader should be faulted for that.
I found it very hard to follow. The archaic language makes it difficult to realize which character is doing what. This is the first audible book that I would have been better off reading instead of listening to.
Well, I read the book in school and didn't like it. I thought I would try it again as an adult thinking I would appreciate it more. But the language is hard to follow because it is archaic.
I can't think of anything. The performance was good, but I couldn't follow the characters well.
Probably just me. Maybe I should have concentrated more.
My brain is not smart enough to process Old English. Ha!
Nothing! I just don't think it was quite up my alley.
When the monster came into the Hall and tore them all apart. :)
I wanted to read it to add to my 'classics' list. But the wording was hard to focus thru.
We owe it to ourselves to pick up an ancient story or poem once in a few reads. Make sure you pick up "Grendel" by John Gardner for a "monster's point of view" *** Read Unabridged and capture all the author's thoughtful insights ***
"One to read before you die"
A great version of this classic.
Not sure if it would be easier to read than listen to as it is in old English/Anglo Saxon English.
Nevertheless one of the hundred titles to read before you die.
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