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Publisher's Summary

Translated and read by Seamus Heaney.

New York Times best seller and Whitebread Book of the Year, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf comes to life in this gripping audio. Heaney's performance reminds us that Beowulf, written near the turn of another millennium, was intended to be heard not read.

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and lives to old age before dying in a vivid fight against a dragon.

The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.

©2000 Seamus Heaney; (P)2000 Penguin Books Ltd., by arrangement with the BBC. Published by arrangement with W. W. Norton.

Critic Reviews

"The classic eighth-century English poem is strikingly presented, making accessible the story of a young man's heroic journey to find and slay two monsters." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    144
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    66
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Like the poem, wish it was the full version.

i was looking for the full version. This did just fine I jist had to find and read the skipped sections.
The performance was amazing and I believe his accent lenses a hand to the storytelling.

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This is an ABRIDGED version!

I was following along with the text of Heaney's translation while listening and found that this audio version kept skipping over large sections of the text. Yet not once does the description say that this is an abridged version of Beowulf! Very unhappy I wasted a credit on this.

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Nice Translation , Easy to Understand

This translation is easier to understand than others. I didn't give it 5 stars because it was abridged. Some important chunks of text were not read.
The narrator was good, except he mis-read minor words from the text ("bring" instead of "take", "then" instead of "next"). No big deal though.

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Excellent.

Excellent. Awesome. Narrator is the closest example of what a skald must have sounded like!

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Amazing

Amazing in it's depth and complexity, some traditional parts were not included such as the swimming race but great translation on the themes of true heroism and nobility.

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Beautifully Narrated

I could listen to the soft lilt of Seamus Heaney all day. Wonderful recording. Cheers

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A magnificent performance!

I will never tire of treating myself to another recitation! I never thought I could enjoy this except in the original but Seamus Heaney has proven himself in this masterful translation and authentic recitation!

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Wow.

Wow. Amen to you, Seamus. May your days be long and good and well ended.

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  • akaGracie
  • AUSTIN, TX, United States
  • 12-07-16

A Wonderful Translation Brought Alive

Who better to read Seamus Heaney's magical translation of Beowulf than Seamus Heaney? I believed in him from the beginning, when he said in his beautiful voice, "That was one good king."

Way back in the last century, I majored in English Lit - but I never read Beowulf (how is that possible? I didn't read The Canterbury Tales then, either, but I did read lots of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy, so there's that). As soon as Mr Heaney's translation came out I bought it, and carried it around with me as some sort of proof (to myself) that I was a real English major. I read it over quickly, then slowly, and then I tried convincing everyone else that they should read it, too. In fact, it was my choice for my book group - they humored me but then we went back to more recent history such as The Metaphysical Club and Paris 1919, interesting and well-written, but nowhere near as stirring as Beowulf.

Beowulf is meant to be heard. It's like Joyce's Ulysses in that regard (Jim Norton's is the version to listen to), and Alice Oswald's Memorial: A Version of Homer's Iliad (narrated by Mark Ashby). I can also recommend two versions of The Canterbury Tales: The Retelling by Peter Ackroyd and the Blackstone Audio version.

This isn't a book just for English majors - it's a book for everyone who likes a gripping story with great heart. That we have the opportunity to hear Seamus Heaney himself read his translation is a gift.

I rated this all 5s because it's a masterpiece everyone should have the opportunity to hear.

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Brilliant on Every Level

This is a fantastic rendition of this classic piece of literature! Hearing him narrate, you almost feel like you are sitting around a fire being told the story by one of the great men of old.