Posted November 18th, 2015 by Gracithe1andonly
A Book Review by *Snow* Chrysostom
in wardly searching
The only reason I did not rate this with a five was that Seamus Haney's translation had a buch of big words in it. Thankfully, I had a smart and intelligent teacher to walk me through it.
Not everybody has that teacher, though, so the book is not accessible to everyone. But then again, what book is?
I know that most of the high-schoolers on KidPub will have had their struggles with Beowulf. However, I have a few major reasons that I really enjoyed and liked this poem.
First, Seamus Haney, although it was still a struggle to read at times, made a poem that often seems dry into a great and beautiful ballad.
Second, the legit Anglo-Saxon. I, as a lover of languages, can safely say that not everyone feels the same way about Anglo-Saxon that I do. But good Lord! þæt wæs god cyning! That was one good king!
Am I still the only one...?
Well, fine. Okay.
But that's one personal reason why I love Seamus's translation- it gives you the original Anglo-Saxon on the previous page.
Included in that reason is the names. Oh my Lord, I never get tired of saying Hygelac. Which, by the way, is pronounced who-ya-lock. Haethcyn, which is Hoth-coon, is also very fun. They look pretty, sound pretty, and dang it, I never get tired of wowing people by saying the first few lines of the poem in Anglo-Saxon.
Third, J.R.R. Tolkien liked it, and he's my model in life. Enough said!
Fourth, the stories-within-the-story. As someone who believes in 200 years of backstory while writing a book that deals with modern times, let alone when I create fantasy worlds, seeing stories within the story makes me very happy. Especially when the story has hints of reality in it.
(Hygelac may have actually really existed.)
(This makes me happy.)
Fifth and last, the story is good. There are crazy bits, like when Beowulf just pops Grendel's arm off and is all like "oops, I meant to suffocate you" and Grendel runs across the fens like "Mooooooooooooooooooom!!!" and dies when he gets there.
And King Hrothgar (daaaaang, that's a nice name too. Roll that "r," you guys. You have to roll it or you don't get the same feels) has time to have a party before Grendel's mom finally gets off her duff to go try to kill some Geats and avenge her son.
So yeah, it gets weird. But so does every legend, and I just really like this one. The words are beautiful in both languages, and it just moves my heart whenever God is mentioned. I can feel the Anglo-Saxons trying to reconcile Christianity with their code of Heroism, and it just... oh, it's so... bittersweet.
I think my favorite story-within-story is the mention that Beowulf makes about himself being fostered in the home of his mother's father. Why did that happen? I don't know enough about Anglo-Saxon culture to even hypothesize. Beowulf also describes at length the accidental murder of his uncle Herebeald (whose name I haven't figured out yet, I think it's something like hair-e-beld. Not sure, though) by his other uncle Haethcyn. Beowulf talks about his grandfather Hrethel's death from grief. Beowulf also, (who, besides his constant boasting, actually seems to be a really decent, really enormous guy) also talks about the attacks of the Swedes, and the death of Haethcyn.
I'm getting off on a tangent here, but that's my favorite story-within-story. There are so many more that are worth looking at.
So, yeah. I really like this story, and am considering mimicking AA with her "Doubt Thou" which is a sci-fi hamlet. Yes, I am considering writing Beowulf fanfiction that will most likely concern Hrethel, Herebeald, Haethcyn, Hygelac, and Beowulf.
And it will be set in modern times, if I write it.
I can sense J.R.R. Tolkien stirring in his grave.
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