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Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition Paperback – Illustrated, November 17, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Accomplish[es] what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right.

I wish that the astonishing and powerful Seamus Heaney translation of ?Beowulf ?had been available when Roger Avary and I first wrote our film script. Heaney's reading of his own Beowulf has been on my iPod for the last two years, and I play it when my blood needs stirring. This illustrated edition is possibly the finest version of Heaney's translation yet, and is the next best thing to being in the mead hall at Heorat, watching the action, with Heaney chanting it beside you. --Neil Gaiman

The carefully selected pictures that accompany Heaney's masterful translation illustrate the heroic Scandinavian world evoked in ?Beowulf?.... They visualize its helmets, swords, warships, but also the jewelry and musical instruments, and the majestic landscape. --Hans Sauer, University at Munich, and former president, International Society of Anglo-Saxonists

Accomplish[es] what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right. "

I wish that the astonishing and powerful Seamus Heaney translation of ?Beowulf ?had been available when Roger Avary and I first wrote our film script. Heaney's reading of his own Beowulf has been on my iPod for the last two years, and I play it when my blood needs stirring. This illustrated edition is possibly the finest version of Heaney's translation yet, and is the next best thing to being in the mead hall at Heorat, watching the action, with Heaney chanting it beside you. --Neil Gaiman"

The carefully selected pictures that accompany Heaney's masterful translation illustrate the heroic Scandinavian world evoked in ?Beowulf?.... They visualize its helmets, swords, warships, but also the jewelry and musical instruments, and the majestic landscape. --Hans Sauer, University at Munich, and former president, International Society of Anglo-Saxonists"

About the Author

Seamus Heaney (1939―2013) was an Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born at Mossbawn farmhouse between Castledawson and Toomebridge, County Derry, he resided in Dublin until his death.

John D. Niles is the Nancy C. Hoefs Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (November 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330106
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Trinque on November 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have previously commented favorably on the excellence of Seamus Heaney's translation of this classic Old English poem as originally published in a bilingual edition (presenting Heaney's translation on pages alternating with the Anglo-Saxon original).

Remarkably, the present edition is an improvement on the original. The Old English text has been replaced with a vast number of superb illustrations, mostly photographs of artifacts representing life in world of Beowulf and photographs of reconstructed Iron Age boats and buildings. These illustrations superbly illuminate Heaney's words, making the tale even more vivid and comprehensible. They are beautiful in their own right, and wonderfully complement Heaney's words. The volume also contains several chapters of excellent commentary upon these illustrations.

I have never seen a version of "Beowulf" better suited for the intelligent general reader. If you don't already own the original bilingual edition, this new version belongs on your bookshelf. In fact, it deserves a place even if you own the earlier edition.
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Format: Paperback
There are at least four editions of Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, and they're all worth owning. The audio version is read beautifully and dramatically by the author himself (although, unfortunately, it's abridged). The original published version has both the translation and the Old English text. The Norton Critical Edition includes a wealth of essays, critical literature, and background information. And the new Norton Illustrated Edition brings the poem to fuller life through a wonderful selection of images of artifacts, reconstructions, and landscapes related to the text on the facing pages. For those who would like to know what the world of Beowulf and the world of the Beowulf poet really looked like, this is the place to go.
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Format: Paperback
Seamus Heaney's modern English translation of Beowulf won the UK's Whitbread Book Award (now called the Costa Book Award) for Book of the Year in 1999, and came out in paperback in the US a couple of years later. Now it comes with illustrations on the even-numbered pages instead of the original Old English text. John D. Niles has selected over 100 photos of archeological finds and landscapes appropriate to the text. Some helmets, rings, swords, etc., from the first millenium have survived in burial mounds in Sweden and Denmark, and are shown. The pictures help illuminate the poem, making it easier to imagine what the characters were wearing and where they were going. I read this book for pleasure, never having been exposed to it in school; I wish the classics had been presented to me in as interesting a fashion as this. Highly recommended for those who have not purchased the earlier, non-illustrated version.
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This version of Beowulf has a great deal to offer to the reader in terms of its sound, content, and visuals. I started by reading the section of the introduction entitled "The Poem." It gives the historical background of the Beowulf manuscript, and more importantly it helps the reader know what to look for in the structure of the text. For example, I looked for the "three archetypal sites of fear" described by Heaney: the "barricaded night-house," the "infested underwater current," and the "reptile-haunted rocks of a wilderness" when I read the poetry about Beowulf's heroic deeds fighting Grendel, Grendel's Mother, and the dragon. In the next section "About This Translation," Heaney describes his patterns for the alliteration that give the poem its distinctive sound.

I am a museum lover, so I enjoyed the pictures of swords and the wonderful artifacts found at the burial sites and in the bogs. I found myself showing some of them to others. My dentist admired the picture of a metal boar meant to illustrate decorations on war gear. I also found myself showing off some of the pictures of gold pendants and necklaces to various people to explain how a gold hoard was an important sign of civilization and prosperity in the culture of the Danes and the Geats. At the end of the book, in an "Afterword," Professor Niles writes about visualizing the narrative and explains his rational for choosing the various types of illustrations. For example, the outdoor photos that illustrate concepts such as "night-shapes" at sunset are meant to establish a scene in the poem or to create an analogue to it according to Niles. When I came upon an instance of two textual pages together without an illustration or a photo, I missed seeing one there. To me that proves that the visuals did illuminate the text.
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Format: Paperback
Bought this for a gift; after cursory flip-through, seems fantastic. Prose looks clean and tight, and visuals I did look at were phenomenal- might add to even this narrative, which was certainly a classic even before this re-working. Seems to have potential as great nexus; will probably lead to my tracking down half-dozen more sources for more reading. Hoping recipient will lend it to me soon-
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I don't have the time to give this book the review it deserves.
I teach Beowulf, and this is my favorite edition, especially for high school/college students: a true, easy-flowing, poetic, story-telling translation without sounding like a modern translation. It "takes you there" instead of telling the story.
The book is solid, high quality, heavy stock coated pages with full-page photos and descriptions on every other page.
A true "coffee table" edition.

Arrived from seller in perfect condition.
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