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Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 384 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393320978
ISBN-10: 0393320979
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Heaney] has made a masterpiece out of a masterpiece.” (Andrew Motion - The Financial Times)

“Accomplishes what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right.” (New York Times Book Review)

“How did he do it? How did Seamus Heaney fashion verses, singularly handsome verses that not only capture the somber grandeur and mythic vigor of the Anglo-Saxon original, but also reflect the rhythm and timbre of the English we speak today.... This newborn translation makes accessible to everyone the first supremely great poem to be written in the English language.” (Colin Campbell - Christian Science Monitor)

“Mr. Heaney's translation beats with a recurring pulse, from homely and concrete to elevated and back again. The great battle scenes are rendered with a power and a grisly horror both increased and made oddly transparent by a freshness and innocence of diction.... In sustaining contrast is the lyricism, quiet yet immediate, of the small passages.” (Richard Eder - New York Times)

“As vivid as a tabloid headline and as visceral as a nightmare. Heaney's own poetic vernacular... is the perfect match for the ?Beowulf? poet's Anglo-Saxon. Heaney uses this idiom not to modernize the epic but to showcase it's surprisingly contemporary feel.... As retooled by Heaney ?Beowulf??should easily be good for another millennium.” (Malcolm Jones - Newsweek)

“Magnificent, breathtaking.... Heaney has created something imperishable and great that is stainless―stainless, because its force as poetry makes it untouchable by the claw of literalism: it lives singly, as an English language poem.” (James Wood - The Guardian)

“Excellent . . . has the virtue of being both dignified and sophisticated, making previous versions look slightly flowery and antique by comparison. His intelligence, fine ear and obvious love of the poem bring ?Beowulf?alive as melancholy masterpiece, a complex Christian-pagan lament about duty, loss and transience. . . . Heaney has done it (and us) a great service.” (Claire Harman - Evening Standard)

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (February 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393320979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393320978
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert L. Stephens on December 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I'm posting this review as a warning to buyers that although Amazon is presently listing the audio CD as UNABRIDGED, it's actually marked "Unabridged Selections" by the publisher in what is obviously an exercise in marketing double talk.

The audio CD version omits many lines and even some sizable chunks of the original work. The only word for that is "Abridged" and the publishers should be ashamed of themselves for calling it anything other than "Abridged".

Amazon should update the listing accordingly. I'm giving the edition a 1 star rating simply to call attention to the deceitful packaging. I have no other complaint aside from that.
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By A Customer on October 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I enjoyed listening to the CD audio version more than reading the translation. But BEWARE. The CD is advertised as UNABRIDGED. When you read the cover carefully, it says, UNABRIDGED SELECTIONS. There are passages omitted. That was the major disappointment, and one has to assume a deliberate attempt to mislead on the part of the publisher. Otherwise, why not call it what it is, ABRIDGED?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have the physical book edition of this wonderful work, and wanted to have it also with me on Kindle. However, without any indication at all, the Kindle edition is abridged. It is only the modern English translation and does NOT include the Anglo-Saxon text.

Amazon nis selling you half a book on Kindle, not the entire book. This is very deceptive and one wonders how many other Kindle books have been butchered by Amazon.
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Format: Paperback
I am no scholar of Beowulf, but Seamus Heaney's version is the fourth or fifth version I've read, and in comparison to those it is by far the most superior. Any prose translations should be discredited by that account alone, but Seamus Heaney doesn't just make it poetic, as it should be, he uses his personal experiences, as indicated in the Introduction, when choosing the best word for the meter. When he uses these Irish local coloquialisms, it's not out of sheer desperation but of sheer love for the music of poetry, and when no other words sounds right, he chooses these words to emphasize the poetry and the plot.
I have read other reviewers at this site discrediting Seamus Heaney due to this very reason, but in my view if a translator doesn't add passion to his translation then it is a waste of time to translate at all. It may not be exactly true to the text, but true enough. One thing I love most about his translation is the fact that he stays true to the meter. With four alliterations per line, he provides the feel of the original text upon the reading.
Another thing I loved about this translation is the very first line. He makes (a true) comment that while previous versions begin the entire text with a "Lo!" or a "Hark!" or a "Behold!", Seamus Heaney starts off with the simple yet modern "So." -- with a period -- not even an overused and ecstatic exclamation mark.
Finally, for those who don't dabble in the egoism of stuffy "scholarly" expectations will also enjoy glancing at the original text that displays directly next to the translation. Here you get the feel of Seamus Heaney's decision to translate the way he did. You won't understand the original text, yet with the translation sitting next to it, you will.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the new verse translation of this first millennium text, which was written sometime between the seventh and tenth centuries by an unknown English author. Translated by Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, and read by him on this audio cd, he breathes new life into this mythic epic.
This is the story of the heroic Beowulf , and his timeless story is stark in its simplicity, made sonorous by the poetic reading given by Seamus Heaney. It is, in its simple narrative, a story that was meant to be read aloud. After all, between the seventh and the tenth centuries, few people could read.
Seamus Heaney gives a remarkable reading, his soft brogue and cadence capturing the dark, epic mood of the piece. His verse translation gives the story an accessibility that should make it a much more enjoyable experience for many who may have shied away from this early English work.
What is there not to like about this story? It is about a hero who vanquishes monsters and lives to fight another day in the quintessential battle between good and evil. Its message, undoubtedly relevant when written, is still relevant today. Those who are new to this work should consider purchasing the audio cd and listening to Seamus Heaney's rendition of this ancient work.
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Format: Audio CD
My career is as far removed from classical literature as you can get, but boy do I love epic poems. I've read multiple versions of Beowulf (including 2 comic adaptations), and Heaney's version is by far the most accessible. The man has a true command of English, and he manages to present the poem in more straightforward language without a feeling of talking down to the reader.
That said, if you want a real treat, check out the audio version of Beowulf. Heaney's translation is good enough on page, but to hear him read it is marvelous. It makes you feel like you're sitting around a campfire, listening to an elder spin some wild yarn. Be warned, however: even though this Amazon page says "UNABRIDGED", the audio versions are really unabridged SELECTIONS. You don't get the full text of the poem, but you get the necessary parts - enough to make it enjoyable.
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