Friday, August 01, 2008


Beowulf, translated and read by Seamus Heaney

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and lives to old age before dying in a vivid fight against a dragon.
The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) the library at work doesn't have many audio books. Since I've had a good deal of coding to do lately, I've been working through my personal stash of audio books (and those loaned from friends) as well as the library's selection of fiction on CD. On the Road is currently checked-out, but I've listened to Eragon (kind of a strange choice for an academic library) and now Beowulf.

Actually, I was quite excited when I realized that the library owned an audio version of Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf. I'd been wanting to read it ever since it first came out and I knew that listening to Heaney read it himself would be a much more authentic way to experience the poem.

While Beowulf probably isn't the best choice for listening while doing mindless work (I prefer something lighter), it is nonetheless a good "read". Heaney reads wonderfully and his translation makes the work accessible to the modern reader.

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