Greenfield has succeeded to a remarkable degree in reaching his goals. An early reviewer of the manuscript, Daniel G. Calder of UCLA, wrote: ?I find it the best translation of Beowulf.
One of the great problems with other translations is that they make the reading of Beowulf difficult. Greenfield's translation speeds along with considerable ease. . . Scholars will find the translation fascinating as an exercise in the successful recreating of various aspects of Old English poetic style.”
Stanley B. Greenfield is Professor of English at the University of Oregon and is cofounder of the yearbook, Anglo-Saxon England, A Critical History of Old English Literature and The Interpretation of Old English Poems, and President of the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast.
Alain Renoir is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of The Poetry of John Lydgate.
The first part of the book provides information of interest to a wide range of readers, while the second covers more specialized topics. Thus the initial chapters review the merits of different translations and offer a detailed plot summary, while later chapters discuss the poem's language and style, its treatment of religion, its relation to Anglo-Saxon culture, and its legacy in popular culture. One of the greatest Beowulf scholars was J.R.R. Tolkien, and the book gives special attention to his use of the poem in his own fiction. High school students, undergraduates, and general readers will find this book a valuable guide to one of the most challenging yet enduring works of English literature.
Composed toward the end of the first millennium, 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 dies in old age 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 beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, 9789380914831)