Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney

I decided to read Beowulf again (in translation! This is a Book a Day, not a Book a Decade! Although Lucia of Mapp and Lucia would have pretended to read it in the original while keeping the translation to hand, ready to be covered up at a moment's notice ... )

There are many translations of Beowulf available but I recommend this one because Seamus Heaney is a poet in his own right, and will choose the right word for the right effect even if it is not always the "correct" translation. He also gives helpful marginal comments as to what is happening, useful because it is not always obvious otherwise when a scop in the poem declaims another poem, for example.

Now that I have gone back to basics, I might be brave enough to watch 2007's animated Beowulf on DVD. I've been avoiding it because I didn't want to be one of those people who say "but that's not what it should be like!" Now that I've refreshed my memory I've also remembered that there were no doubt many versions of the original tale anyway, and that this is just the one that was lucky enough to be written down and to survive.

Day 70; Book 68