Beowulf Translations Essay

Beowulf Translations Essay-45
Old English poetry, based on half-line formulas with two stresses linked by alliteration, is quite foreign to modern listeners.

Old English poetry, based on half-line formulas with two stresses linked by alliteration, is quite foreign to modern listeners.

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A consummate craftsman with a special ear for contemporary idiom, Heaney does not attempt to simulate this kind of poetry, so no one gets to hear the rhythms of Old English verse in his poetic version.

But fidelity to any of the powerful sounds of poetry is not even an issue in a prose translation.

If you are looking for an unorthodox autobiography of Tolkien, this is a great resource.

If you are new to , this edition will prove a difficult, unwieldy introduction.

Tolkien dedicated his professional life to Old English scholarship, and better than anyone, and this meticulous translation with its thoughtful, conversational notes reveal something of Tolkien as a 34-year old translator, scholar, and Oxford professor.

It is thoroughly Tolkien’s , and is brilliant in its insight. Tolkien was most dedicated to the Old English , and understood all the complexity and nuance of the Old English alliterative verse in which the poem is written.

His own assessment suggests he would have destroyed it, if he imagined anyone might publish it with selections from his undergraduate lecture notes.

In the interview I explained that any diligent teacher (or advanced student) of Beowulf in the original Old English ends up with at least a clumsy translation after a semester of labour.

As the commentary shows, Tolkien was constantly changing his mind about its modern English analogue.

He was too dedicated to the original text to create a modern translation in his own voice, though this voice certainly comes through in the commentary.

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