Beowulf by Seamus Heaney
A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition)

73%

11 Critic Reviews

...Heaney's Beowulf has an added resonance. In his hands, the past becomes immediate, and what it knew reads as inherited wisdom.
-AV Club

Synopsis

New York Times bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Award.


Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in ?Beowulf? and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
 

About Seamus Heaney

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Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection, appeared in 1966, and since then he has published poetry, criticism and translations which have established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. He has twice won the Whitbread Book of the Year, for The Spirit Level (1996) and Beowulf (1999). In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. District and Circle, his eleventh collection of poems, was published in 2006 and was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize.
 
Published March 12, 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Beowulf
All: 11 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 2

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 05 2016

Nobel laureate Heaney has brought forth a finely wrought, controversial (for having won a prize over a children's book) modern English version, one which retains, even recommends, the archaic strengths of its warrior world...

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Keith Phipps on Mar 29 2002

...Heaney's Beowulf has an added resonance. In his hands, the past becomes immediate, and what it knew reads as inherited wisdom.

Read Full Review of Beowulf: A New Verse Translat... | See more reviews from AV Club

AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Keith Phipps on Mar 29 2002

A work of great grace, Heaney's translation captures the sense of Old English poetry without adhering slavishly to its rules; when possible, he retains the alliteration and caesuras but never bends his voice to suit them. The result is a Beowulf of rough elegance and emotional directness rendered in a voice both ancient and familiar.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by JUSTIN HILL on Jun 17 2011

Each translator resurrects the Old English into modern and this keeps this ancient poem fresh and fascinating. Now, at last, I'm coming to 'Beowulf' in the original Old English, and it continues to surprise and delight as I rephrase it into my English.

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Geek Speak

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Luna on Aug 01 2011

Heaney’s translation gives a rich texture to a story that seems like it would be pretty flat. It reminds me of a Shakespearean tragedy, with its dense use of language that creates complexity where there should be none...It’s not really that great of a read, as the plot and the language are sparse and dense...

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HARVARD MAGAZINE

Above average
Reviewed by Daniel G. Donoghue on Mar 01 2003

While Heaney may not have the philological credentials of William Alfred, he has done his homework well. He worked from his own word-for-word translation of the original, and the final version never strays far from it...For Seamus Heaney, Beowulf is not merely an opportunity to showcase his prodigious talents as a poet.

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Rebecca Reads

Below average
Reviewed by Rebecca Reid on Mar 10 2011

Maybe because it was so unfamiliar to me, I found I was completely unmoved by the story, for that’s all it seemed to be to me. There was no emotion and no epic feel to it. The story was violent, and for me, it just felt flat

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The Literary Omnivore

Excellent
Reviewed by The Literary Omnivore on Sep 03 2010

Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf is a gorgeous translation of the great epic poem. All those who love stories, fantasy, and literature need to have a copy to refer to and enjoy.

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http://www2.webster.edu

Above average
Reviewed by Bob Corbett on May 01 2012

It’s really a great story, but it is the manner of the translation, the beauty and flow of it that made it such a success for me. Now, coming from this piece to Heaney’s OWN poetry I am really excited and can’t wait to begin, or should I say “return” since I have sampled a few of his poems already...

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Book Banter

Above average
Reviewed by bookbanter on Mar 04 2010

Heaney’s new twist on this translation of Beowulf is through using the most exact word possible; the result are terms like “ring-hoard,” “lake-birth,” “shield-clash,” and “sky-roamer.” What makes this so magical is how the words fit so well, and flow like the soft voice that once spoke them.

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http://catholicmediareview.blogspot.com

Above average
Reviewed by MARCH HARE on Jan 03 2008

The story is simple and straightforward; much like I imagine the societies of that time to be. Yet, I recognize the beginning of the idea of chivalry, of protecting women and those who are weaker...1300 years after it was written, Beowulf is still entertaining. And it just might have something to show us about ourselves as well.

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Reader Rating for Beowulf
80%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 489 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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