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Understanding Great Literature - Understanding Beowulf Hardcover – October 17, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Understanding Great Literature
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Lucent Books; 1 edition (October 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560068612
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560068617
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,154,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up--"A first reading of Beowulf will confuse and frustrate any ordinary reader." With this statement, Streissguth puts himself squarely on the students' side. He then convinces them of the epic's value as historical artifact, narrative, and literary work. Citing scholarship dating back to 1919, the author lucidly outlines some of the unknowns about the poem's composition, authorship, and transmission; briefly sketches its historical background; and retells, clearly, the often-digressive narrative. In the section on characters, much information is repeated, and a genealogical chart is unfortunately at odds with the text. It depicts Beowulf as the offspring of his own aunt and uncle, seems to make Eofor a son of Hygelac, and correctly shows Hrothulf as Hrothgar's nephew, not, as Streissguth calls him, his brother. (Some of this is a result of careless layout.) A section on themes briefly identifies the epic's central preoccupations, though Streissguth's description of Beowulf as embodying Christian charity is strained. Citations from the poem are from three different translations; black-and-white illustrations do not give artist or date. The volume includes 10 questions to explore for those writing papers, providing references to start on the answers; 6 pages of short critical excerpts; useful maps; and an annotated bibliography that, oddly, places authors' given names first. Is this volume better than standard Cliffs Notes-type guides, or the half-dozen excellent Internet study guides? It has its points, but on the whole, no.--Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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Review

"A review of the novel's critical analysis includes many sources. A list of thought-provoking discussion question and essay subject is included. The book is illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of period paintings, portraits...and stills. A useful addition that will serve both teachers and students well."
-- School Library Journal (September 2001) (School Library Journal 20010901)

"With its simple format and clear writing, Thrasher's book will appeal to younger students or those who are intimidated by literary assignments."
-- School Library Journal (July 2002) (School Library Journal 20020701)

"Clearly written, easy-to-understand book...A copious notes section, a section for further exploration, questions and ideas for themes and essays, and an appendix of literary criticism make this an invaluable teaching and/or library resource. Many black-and-white sketches, drawings, and photos create further interest in this...literary history."
-- School Library Journal (April 2001) (School Library Journal 20010401)

"Major characters are covered in detail, and minor characters in brief. Well-organized, prolific notes document chapters for ease in further research. The writing is informative and clear with no glaring biases. A useful tool for unlocking a literary masterpiece."
-- School Library Journal (April 2001) (School Library Journal 20010401)

"Each book includes biographical information; historical context; details about plot, characters, and themes; a chronology; source notes; and a bibliography. The literary criticism is lucid without being simplistic. For junior-high and high-school students as well as the adults interested in what teens read."
-- Booklist (March 2001) (Booklist 20010301)

"In the section on characters, much information is repeated, and a genealogical chart is unfortunately at odds with the text. A section on themes briefly identifies the epic?s central preoccupations, though Streissguth?s description of Beowulf as embodying Christian charity is strained. Citations from the poem are from three different translations; black-and-white illustrations do not give artist or date... and an annotated bibliography that, oddly, places authors? given names first. Is this volume better than standard Cliffs Notes-type guides, or the half-dozen excellent Internet study guides? It has its points, but on the whole, no."
--School Library Journal (March 2004) (School Library Journal 20040301)

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