Beowulf, Now With 20% Fewer Sleeping Pills

This is just cool. The fantasy epic, Beowulf, lives on in a new, actually-readable, translation by Dr. David Breeden. I remember reading one of the older translations in high school, and thinking, “man, this would be a good story if it made any sense.” This version is eminently readable, and breathes new life into the oldest of the old school.

7 replies on “Beowulf, Now With 20% Fewer Sleeping Pills”

  1. fiziko says:

    About time
    A very readable version of the only poem I’ve ever
    liked? I’ll have to read that (right before I reread
    “The Legacy of Heorot” by Niven, Pournelle, and
    Barnes, which is the novel that got me to read
    “Beowulf” in the first place…)

    • Dave says:

      Re: About time

      A very readable version of the only poem I’ve ever
      liked? I’ll have to read that (right before I reread
      “The Legacy of Heorot” by Niven, Pournelle, and
      Barnes, which is the novel that got me to read
      “Beowulf” in the first place…)

      If you’re a poetic purist, be sure to read the “Translator’s Notes.” Basically, instead of strictly adhering to the meter of the original, it’s pretty much all free-verse. It’s arguably less faithful to the original (though the translator makes an interesting argument that it’s MORE faithful this way); either way, it’s a helluva lot more readable.

      And it’s broken into a dozen smaller Web pages, so you can read a bit here and a bit there. I thought that was a nice touch – the inevitable high-school English Lit textbook I first read it in just had it in a big, thirty-page block o’ contiguous text. At the time, I looked at it as more of a chore than the kickass piece of literature it is.

    • Lord_Of_The_Beer says:

      If you liked “Legacy”
      What did you think of “Beowulfs Children”?

      • fiziko says:

        Re: If you liked “Legacy”

        What did you think of “Beowulfs Children”?

        That one’s in my stack of books I have
        yet to read, along with “Burning Tower,” “Inferno”
        (I’m waiting until I read the Divine Comedy), “The
        Barsoom Project” and “The California Voodoo Game” (I’m
        waiting on those two until I read “Dream Park”), and a
        few dozen others by assorted authors. When I get
        around to reading them, you’ll see the reviews
        here.

  2. jsimon12 says:

    Middle English……
    Man, I went to a Catholic HighSchool and they made up read good old Beowulf in freaking Middle English, crazy crazy stuff. My question is, since this thing has been translated so many times, is it really the same story. Yes it has the same plot and such but is it true to what the orginal was?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Middle English……

      Yes it has the same plot and such but is it true to
      what the orginal was?

      The newest translator has the same
      concerns. He calls it a new version, rather than a
      new translation.

  3. xah says:

    other ones
    I liked Robert Nye’s “Beowulf: A New Telling,” when I was a young’un. It’s about 100 pages of prose. There is also the recent and well-praised “Beowulf: A New Verse Translation,” translated by Seamus Heaney. Some editions have both the Old English and the translated version.

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