Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition by Seamus HeaneyBeowulf: An Illustrated Edition by Seamus Heaney

Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition

bySeamus HeaneyEditorJohn D NilesTranslated bySeamus Heaney

Paperback | October 30, 2007

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Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf ?is the elegiac narrative of the Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in ?Beowulf ?and its immense emotional credibility Seamus Heaney gives the great epic convincing reality

But how to visualize the poet's story has always been a challenge for modern-day readers. In Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, John D. Niles, a specialist in Old English literature, provides visual counterparts to Heaney's remarkable translation. More than one hundred full-page illustrations—Viking warships, chain mail, lyres, spearheads, even a reconstruction of the Great Hall—make visible Beowulf's world and the elemental themes of his story: death, divine power, horror, heroism, disgrace, devotion, and fame. This mysterious world is now transformed into one of material splendor as readers view its elegant goblets, dragon images, and finely crafted gold jewelry against the backdrop of the Danish landscape of its origins.

John D. Niles is the Nancy C. Hoefs Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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Title:Beowulf: An Illustrated EditionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.12 × 7.56 × 0.75 inPublished:October 30, 2007Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393330109

ISBN - 13:9780393330106

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice editoin of a classic great story and artwork - really enjoyed it
Date published: 2017-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking! I absolutely LOVED this version of Beowulf. I had never read Beowulf before, but had wanted to for a very long time. I was finally given this book as a gift, and I was more than pleased with it. I greatly enjoyed the language that Seamus Heaney chose to employ in his translation. It was beautiful, but to the point, and not overly difficult to follow. I would like to, at some point, read another translation of Beowulf to compare, because I know that there have been some complaints that Heaney approached this translation more as a poet than a translator, and that some people felt that the essence of Beowulf was lost. But I felt that it was a great way to approach the text, it felt fresh to read, it wasn't dry, and there was a lot of power and allure in the passages. My favourite lines were where Hrothgar relates the horror of Grendel's mere: "A few miles from here a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch above a mere; the overhanging bank is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface. At night there, something uncanny happens: the water burns. And the mere bottom has never been sounded by the sons of men. On its bank, the heather-stepper halts: the hart in flight from pursuing hounds will turn to face them with firm-set horns and die in the wood rather than dive beneath its surface. That is no good place." I think that his translation is probably especially appreciated by a person who is approaching the text for the first time, and someone who is in love with words, like myself. The way I read this version is that I read the main body of the story first, then the afterword, and THEN the introduction. This was helpful for a couple of reasons. One, the introduction contains "spoilers", and because I was a first time reader I didn't want that! Two, it was more helpful for me to read about Heaney's process within the context of having already read the story, and it helped to explain some of the idiosyncrasies of the words he had chosen. I felt that this version was really focused on the conveying the feeling the poem creates, rather than just giving a dry translation. It had a grandiose quality to it that I loved. The illustrations were very interesting as well. As I was reading, I noticed that some of the photos were a bit odd and anachronistic, and I found some of the captions to be rather amusing and not really related to the history of the poem in any sense, i.e., there is a photo of a sunset over a lake with part of the caption reading, "Though taken in Maine rather than Scandinavia, this photograph is meant to represent calm waters after a storm". John D. Niles did a good job of explaining this in the afterword, where he basically says that the point of the photos was to give the reader a picture to help the story to come to life. Also, in the afterword, Niles gave a lot of historical background that I found very helpful in contextualizing the story. If I were to describe this translation in a few words, I would say it was artful, oneiric, and yet, almost paradoxically, very hard and real. I will definitely be reading this again! P.S. I've gotten all inspired after reading this, so now I'm on an epic poem kick... I just ordered The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Divine Comedy from Chapters.... lots of reading ahead of me!
Date published: 2013-05-21

Editorial Reviews

“Accomplish[es] what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right.” — New York Times Book Review