Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: Beowulf, Heaney Translation

Beowulf
Translated by: Seamus Heaney
Narrated by: George Guidall

I used the holiday drive to listen to Beowulf. This was not my first time through the epic poem--that came in my early English literature course during undergrad. But I felt like I was missing something and, now listening to it, I understand what.

Heaney did a marvelous job with the translation of the tale of a true hero--one who sails across the sea to defeat a monster barehanded and who rules "a good king" after the death of kindred he noble supports. This one hides no prizes from his overlord nor seems to have any flaws. And Heaney makes it easily accessible to modern audiences beginning with the word "So...."

The poem whips through 3 CDs quickly, with the tale of Grendel and his mother. I was surprised at the interesting mix between stark Christian references as well as mythical/pagan influences. It shows an attempt on the part of the original author to blend two cultures somewhat at odds with each other.

There is a fourth disc with a lecture by Heaney that I will admit that I skipped. *ducks under the table to avoid the onslaught of "But you're an English major!!!"* I know, bad hedgehog.

My only other comment about the listening? I kept waiting for the next line to begin "Koko and Yum Yum..." as Guidall is the narrator of all of Lilian Jackson Braun's books.

1 comment:

Jennie said...

I must confess...I HATED having to study Seamus Heaneys poetry in school, to the point where I blanked him out!

Much prefer Rabbie Burns anyhoo...who couldn't love "To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet At Church"...classy! ;-)