Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Beowulf Translated by Burton Raffel

BeowulfBeowulf by Unknown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend of mine loaned me her copy of Burton Raffel's translation of Beowulf. I'd been listening to Seamus Heaney's Beowulf with my kids and was surprised by the Christian themes I heard. My friend thought the introductory essay in this edition was worth reading and she was right.

But, then, I went ahead and read the whole thing. Because the kids and I had been listening slowly as I drove them places, I sometimes missed parts and was a little lost during storytelling or other conversations that referred to previous actions or people; reading it helped a lot.

Having never read it until now, the events and speed of them surprised me. The plot points carried the story, certainly, but the descriptions of Beowulf were fascinating to me, especially lines 2177-2183

So Edgetho's son proved himself,
Did as a famous soldier must do
If glory is what he seeks: not killing his comrades
In drunken rages, his heart not savage,
But guarding God's gracious gift, his strength,
Using it only in war, and then using it
Bravely.


While we don't see Beowulf's whole life, we see - or hear about - five important episodes where he used his bravery rightly against wickedness and darkness. We see him judge rightly on issues of diplomacy. We see him acting as a king even unto his own death to protect those who were unprotected.

I really enjoyed Beowulf and will enjoy listening to the sections in our audio with my children to hear them a second time.


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