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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: The oldest epic in the English language was passed down for hundreds of years as an oral tale, so there is no better way to experience the saga of Hrothgar and Beowulf and Grendel than by listening to it. Robertson Dean's narration is lively and admirable, and the production makes it more powerful than a 10th century bard ever could. —Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

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.
© and (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall

Translator Preferred

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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Had A Hard Time Following.

What disappointed you about Beowulf?

My brain is not smart enough to process Old English. Ha!

What could Robert K. Gordon and translator have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Nothing! I just don't think it was quite up my alley.

Which scene was your favorite?

When the monster came into the Hall and tore them all apart. :)

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I wanted to read it to add to my 'classics' list. But the wording was hard to focus thru.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Clear and exciting narration

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.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Ancient Literature - Wonderful!

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 ***

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very Hard to Follow

What disappointed you about Beowulf?

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.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

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.

What aspect of Robertson Dean’s performance would you have changed?

I can't think of anything. The performance was good, but I couldn't follow the characters well.

What character would you cut from Beowulf?

Beowulf himself?

Any additional comments?

Probably just me. Maybe I should have concentrated more.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great yet dry

if you are really into the story, characters or the style it's a great listen, but if you are just buying it and just need to kill 3 hours it will be very dry and difficult to follow. concentrating on whose talking and what's going on is a bit of a struggle at parts but can be managed.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

hard to follow

struggled to finish - story ain't that good (kinda like this review)
You won't regret not reading the story.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • S(ean)
  • 08-08-12

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful