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Beowulf is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important works of Old English literature. The date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 975 and 1025. The author was an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, referred to by scholars as the "Beowulf poet".

The story is set in Scandinavia. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and becomes king of the Geats. Fifty years later, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.

The full story survives in the manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. It has no title in the original manuscript, but has become known by the name of the story's protagonist. In 1731, the manuscript was badly damaged by a fire that swept through Ashburnham House in London that had a collection of medieval manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. The Nowell Codex is housed in the British Library.

The events in the poem take place over most of the sixth century, after the Anglo-Saxons had started migrating to England and before the beginning of the seventh century, a time when the Anglo-Saxons were either newly arrived or were still in close contact with their Germanic kinsmen in Northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The stories in the poem may have been brought to England by people of Geatish origins. Some suggest that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century at Rendlesham in East Anglia, as the Sutton Hoo ship-burial shows close connections with Scandinavia, and the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffingas, may have been descendants of the Geatish Wulfings. Others have associated this poem with the court of King Alfred the Great or with the court of King Cnut the Great.

The poem blends fictional, legendary and historic elements. Although Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript, scholars generally agree that many of the other figures referred to in Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources. (Specific works are designated in the following section). This concerns not only individuals (e.g., Healfdene, Hroðgar, Halga, Hroðulf, Eadgils and Ohthere), but also clans (e.g., Scyldings, Scylfings and Wulfings) and certain events (e.g., the battle between Eadgils and Onela). The raid by King Hygelac into Frisia is mentioned by Gregory of Tours in his History of the Franks and can be dated to around 521.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789626344255
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Publication date: 10/01/2006
Series: Complete Classics Series
Edition description: Unabridged, 3 CDs, 4 hours
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 4.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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"The way [Rosalyn Landor] phrases the majestic syntax makes this a more accessible version of the seminal classic." —-AudioFile

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Beowulf 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The original Beowulf was written in Anglo-Saxon, probably around 600 AD. (So it's not really that ancient-- not compared to Rome or Egypt.) Burton Raffel has done an excellent job translating it. The lines are almost musical, and they flow well. The storyline too, is fascinating. It's about a time when warriors were heroes, and cowards and mere murderers were despised. Being a fair maiden, I have a partiality for heroes who slay monsters! All books have 'tastes,' and I think this one tastes good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beowulf is an interesting character. His strength is comparable to that of Hercules. He is self righteous, believing that god itself has given him this power, and guides him upon what he should do with it. But the intentions of which he uses his gift are of a more greedy purpose. Not just to fulfill gods will. But to use his gift to create a name that would last through the sands of time, being remembered for as long as the earth may age. His accomplishments were great, and contained nobility when he dealt with any enemy. Going into a battle with an unfair advantage was unsuitable to Beowulf. His reason partly ego, partly noble, proving that the beast he had slain had been on their own terms. This great warrior purged lands of tainted creatures, created by mans evil, but knew not the limits of his age, or his responsibility to the Geats. This would lead to the downfall of him, and his people. He set off to fight a mighty dragon. Something like his battle with Grendels mother. Which he had barely survived in his youth. Refusal to heed the warnings of those close, allowing his ego to condemn him. But assistance from a loyal follower kept him from dying in vain. Nevertheless the draw between Beowulf and the dragon led to the condemnation of his people. Although his kingdom contained hardy warriors, and great riches. Without the leadership of Beowulf and the fear contained within his allies the Geats could not withstand the numbers which plagued them after his death. His people slaughtered, throne devoured, and allies turned. Not due to the greed of which the dragon held the treasure, not to save innocent lives of which the dragon had taken, or to secure a future for his people, but to keep the preservation of his name.
john257hopper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great, stirring epic, with perhaps some roots in the real history of the founding of the Swedish nation. I have never read any other version to compare this with, but Burton Raffel's 1963 translation reads well to me, and actually makes you want to read on to find out what happens next.
Joles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you are able to get past the archaic language used (even in the translations) this book is very riveting. It is well written and the action never ends. There are many interpretations of this work. There is a reason this is a classic.
ysar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this is high school, and I'm not sure I fully appreciated it. I enjoyed it much, in part because I find it fascinating that a story so old still has resonance. In any case, I look forward to reading this one again.
Dilapsor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is without a doubt my favorite edition of the ancient poem. Aside from the fact that it fits in my back pocket, the Modern English translation contained within lends itself to being read aloud much better (in my opinion) than Seamus Heaney's version. This edition of Beowulf amazingly manages to capture both the language as well as the poetic meter that seemed to be lacking in the Heaney edition. The only real complaint I can offer regarding this edition is something that has plagued Signet Classics for years: Terrible printing. Aside from that, it is a truly spectacular translation.
ostrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first translation of Beowulf I read, and I still like it.
penwing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wasn't actually a fan of this. it has plot, but that's about it. Oh, and faily hisotry. Masses of "blah son of bleh son of blih". Guess it just aint my cup of tea.
woosang on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very difficult poem to understand in full. I only got a fraction of the way through before I got lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Geez what are you two, bf/gf? Awh and it is valentines day! So sweet. Why dont you kiss already.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
K seeya tomorrow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They excitedly watch the countries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He strides in, smiling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Sacre bleu!!" He cried out, smacking her once more. "Evil child!!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I guess I'd eat it... if that means I'll be with you more often," He catches his breath and blushes redder than one of Spain's tomatoes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I be eroupe or west indies...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just started watching Princess Jellyfish and OMFG AMAZING!!)) He sat quietly on a bench as usual
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eats a roll
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beowulf is an excing and acient poetry book from 12 b.c. I recomend this book to amyone who loves a good adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book in the world
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago