Annotations for Readable Beowulf : The Old English Epic Newly Translated


Baker & Taylor
The Anglo-Saxon poem recounting the story of Beowulf's battle with the monster, Grendel, is translated in the style of contemporary verse

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Chicago Distribution Center

Stanley B. Greenfield, one of the world's foremost Anglo-Saxon scholars, writes of why, after more than thirty years of study, he undertook the Herculean task of renderingBeowulf into con­temporary verse: I wanted my translation to be not only faith­ful to the original but, as the late John Lennon would have put it, A Poem in Its Own Write.' I wanted it to flow,' to be easy to read, with the narrative movement of a modern prose story; yet to suggest the rhythmic cadences of the Old English poem. I wanted it both modern and Old English in its reflexes and sen­sibilities, delighting both the general reader and the Anglo-Saxon specialist. . . . I wanted it to reproduce the intoxication of aural contours which might have pleased and amused war­riors over their cups in the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall, or those monks in Anglo-Saxon monasteries who paid more attention to song and to stories of Ingeld than to thelector and the gospels."

Greenfield has succeeded to a remarkable degree in reaching his goals. An early reviewer of the manuscript, Daniel G. Calder of UCLA, wrote: I find it the best translation ofBeowulf.

One of the great problems with other translations is that they make the reading ofBeowulf difficult. Greenfield's translation speeds along with considerable ease. . . Scholars will find the translation fascinating as an exercise in the successful recreat­ing of various aspects of Old English poetic style."



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