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Beowulf Paperback – February 11, 1977

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It is everywhere vigorous. . . . Chickering enjoys the poem immensely, and this attractive attitude shines everywhere. . . . This book is valuable for its extended literary appreciations and its facing text.” –Library Journal

“A fine book. . . . The essays on poetics, social history, and structure and the notes to specific passages survey the important scholarship.” –Choice

Language Notes

Text: English
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; First Dual Language Edition edition (March 11, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385062133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385062138
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Professor Chickering of Amherst College was my professor a few years back and he never even mentioned his extraordinary translation of Beowulf to our class! (we were readinng chaucer.) But I should not forgive him because it is certainly not something to be missed! Being a product of public schools and reading a rather bland edition of the Old English masterpiece, Chickering's great new version is bold, booming with a voice of classical sensibility with heroic tragedy as well. please support this important and underrated piece of genuine translation, unlike Heaney's total bifurcation of the original from raw to pretty. Beowulf is not pretty. It is gritty, the first action-adventure of Old English.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Professor Howell D. Chickering, Jr., of Amherst College has provided the indispensable edition of "Beowulf" for readers who, like this reviewer, know no Old English. While the extensive supporting material included in the book should be of significant value to those who wish to deepen their understanding of the structure and historical background of the original, the best thing here is the translation itself: clear, direct, and often eloquent. Chickering's modern version has a gnarled, vivid quality that one must assume reflects cardinal virtues of the original. My advice to anyone unfamiliar with this masterpiece would be: click now to buy this book. When you receive it, turn directly to p. 49 and dive into the poem itself. Beginning with the fast-moving first lines ("Listen! We have heard of the glory of the Spear-Danes / in the old days, the kings of tribes-- / how noble princes showed great courage!"), you will be drawn into a world incomparably remote from our own and yet as compelling as any contemporary work of fiction, poetry, or film. And speaking of film, if you have ever wondered what the inspiration was for every shadowy, lurking science-fiction monster you've been scared by at the movies (from "Forbidden Planet" to "Aliens"), read this book and know the answer. Professor Chickering has brought Grendel to life with a vengeance. A priceless gift to lovers of great tales everywhere!
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Can't find Seamus Heaney's new translation of Beowulf? Buy this one. It's better. While Heaney's tranlslation is lyrical and poetic, with a distinct Gaelic flavor, Chickering's rendering is raw and primitive, much closer to the original Anglo-Saxon. Whenever I read it, I have the feeling of actually being there.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is certainly the finest translation of Beowulf, one that captures the craggy, monumental quality of the original Old English and yet conveys the elegiac tone so characteristic of this great body of poetry. Readers of Old English may quarrel with portions of the translation (and what translation doesn't evoke such a response?), but the great virtue of this version is that it comes the closest of all modern Beowulf editions in conveying the incredibly condensed and powerful sound of the original. A must buy for anyone who read (or skipped reading) Beowulf in high school or college and didn't think it was very interesting.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By SonjaRobn@aol.com on August 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am not a colledge student. I speak not a word of Old English. (Though I am working on German) I,in fact am a thirteen-year-old who cannot understand why he is the only person in his class with a love for classic books. Beowulf was the best book I ever read and it put the love of poetry into my heart. This book is not just, or should not just be, for coledge students. I encourage the younger generations to read this book, if for nothing else, just so you have read it.
Sencirly Thomas M. W. Robinson Jr.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a very good book for those interested in Beowulf. In fact, it's as close to my idea of an "ideal" version that I can find.
There are several different sections in this book, besides the text of the poem itself. There are technicial discussions on the poetry itself, and a guide to pronounciation. At the rear of the book are discussions of the historical context of the poem, both internal to the poem and external in the world. A lengthy commentary of the poem follows, then a bibliography, and finally a line-by-line glossary of some of the major sections of the poem.
The part that caught my eye was the "dual langauge" edition. The main text consists of the Anglo-Saxon version on the left-handed pages, and a modern English translation on the right-handed pages. The author states that alliteration in the translation was not a concern, and sometimes the translation does not follow the original word-for-word. Within each numbered five-line block, the translation does follow the original, so it's not too hard to follow both the original and the translation.
As a final comment, Caedmon Audio produces an audio edition read by Bessinger, and I find this is to be an excellent compliment to the book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By e1x56u$*w# on November 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am happy to report that buying this book has been one of those rare occasions when I have enjoyed the pleasant surprise of actually receiving MORE for my money than what I had been expecting.

I bought this book because of its containing the full text of Beowulf plus the running modern English translation on facing pages. In addition to this, I expected perhaps the usual brief introduction which such works are frequently accompanied by.

But instead, the book turned out to be about twice as thick as what I had anticipated. Yes, the first 50 pages or so are indeed the type of introduction and pronunciation guide I had expected, followed by the 200 pages containing the actual text and translation. But above and beyond this there is also an additional almost 200 pages to the book, and it is this portion which has made me doubly happy with my purchase.

Included in the second half of the book is a very helpful chart of the royal genealogies dealt with in the work. This is then followed by literally page after page of absolutely wonderful and extensive background material and analysis which deal with everything from the history of the manuscript and theories as to its authorship and dating, to broader background material on Anglo-Saxon society, its way of life and traditions. I found hours of fascinating and rewarding reading here which I never expected. It's almost like getting an extra book!

And as if this was not enough, to top it all off they have concluded the book with a section which gives full glosses for all the words in the 8 most key sections of the text. -- No need to spend hours frantically flipping in the dictionary, it's all here done for you!

Being a newcomer to the field of Old English, this book has been everything I have been looking for. And considering the modest price of this volume, I feel I have gotten a real bargain and am happy to give this book my highest recommendation to all.
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