Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beowulf, translated by Lesslie Hall

Book: Beowulf
Translator: Leslie Hall
Edition: Gutenberg
Read: April 2013
325 pages
Rated: 3 out of 5

Beowulf is a hero story and one of the oldest pieces of English literature. It talks about how Grendel a monster, related to Cain, was terrorizing the Danes. Beowulf comes from over the seas and grapples with Grendel and kills him. Grendel's mother seeks revenge and try's to kill Beowulf, but once again Beowulf defeats this monster's mom with his bare hands. Beowulf is lauded with honor and wealth, returning home a hero.

He then has the challenge of facing a dragon in his liar. Beowulf is deserted by his companions, except for one. The dragon gives Beowulf a mortal wound; but Beowulf's remaining companion slays the dragon. Beowulf's funeral pyre is bright and big enough to be a beacon for sailors.

The story of Beowulf is well worth reading. There is much in the story to give one pause to consider. My evaluation of a three is more because of me than the work. I had a hard time with the translation and understanding terms not in common 21st century usage. So the flow of the story and understanding of it was interrupted. This meant the natural flow of the story was broken.

But the sense  sense of magnificence of Beowulf showed through. I am looking forward to reading this in a different translation, which a friend suggested: Seamus Heaney's version.

A good thing about Hall's version is he gives a short synopsis of the story. Then in the actual story, he has notes about what the section of the story is about. These were very helpful to me, and not too intrusive. 

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: “Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements
    The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of,
    How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle”
  • Last Line: “So lamented mourning the men of the Geats,
    Fond-loving vassals, the fall of their lord,
    An ideal king.
    Said he was kindest of kings under heaven,
    Gentlest of men, most winning of manner,
    Friendliest to folk-troops and fondest of honor.”


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