By Seamus Heaney,

Book cover of Beowulf

Book description

Composed towards the end of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the great Northern epics and a classic of European literature. In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Beowulf as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

That I would love a poem written/translated by Seamus Heaney did not come as a surprise to me, but that it is Beowulf, a poem/story steeped in the Germanic warrior culture and soaked in blood that enthralled me, did surprise me.

I do not remember the occasion that prompted my reading, but even as I opened the book to its Introduction, and read “...And now this is ‘an inheritance’ --/Upright, rudimentary, unshiftably planked/ In the long ago, yet willable forward...Again and again and again,” I could not put it down.

In fact, you might say, it is not the…

Beowulf is fascinating because it was written in Angle-land, probably Suffolk, probably in the 900s AD, when the Angles (Southern Scandinavians) held sway, with the Danes in Northumbria and Mercia, before the Anglo Saxons began to create the first truly English dynasty in Alfred the Great. It tells of a hero from Geats (in modern Sweden, possibly in the 600s AD) who rids the king of the Danes of the monster Grendel. Of all the translations Seamus Heany is the most vigorous and beautiful, and I often return to it as a reference.

If you want a heart-stopping superhero tale, this is it! Beowulf is the tale of a valiant knight and his conquest of the monster Grendel, told with bone-crunching drama! This story is an ancient Scandinavian hero saga, translated for this book by the poet Seamus Heaney. A recent edition includes pictures to give the reader a visual sense of Viking culture.

From George's list on Viking gods & heroes.

A story about monsters, how to fight them, and what it costs. Beowulf is so ferocious he can rip the claw of the demonic Grendel and plunge into the mere to face the monster’s horrifying mother. But the cares of kingship weigh heavily on his shoulders and his death by dragon-fire presages the collapse of his kingdom.

Written down circa 1000AD and hailing from even earlier, the English language’s first masterpiece is full of melancholy poetry, balancing the glamour of the mead-hall with the wistful memory of fallen warriors. I’ve heard it recited in the original Anglo-Saxon, and it’s a…

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