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Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary de…
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Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary (2014 original; edició 2014)

de Christopher Tolkien (Editor), J.R.R. Tolkien (Traductor)

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The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book. From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel's terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot. But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf 'snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup'; but he rebuts the notion that this is 'a mere treasure story', 'just another dragon tale'. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is 'the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history' that raises it to another level. 'The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The "treasure" is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.' Sellic Spell, a 'marvellous tale', is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the 'historical legends' of the Northern kingdoms.… (més)
Membre:jcarlson523
Títol:Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary
Autors:Christopher Tolkien (Editor)
Altres autors:J.R.R. Tolkien (Traductor)
Informació:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014), Edition: First Edition, 448 pages
Col·leccions:Llista de desitjos
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Cap

Informació de l'obra

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Together with Sellic Spell de J. R. R. Tolkien (Translation and commentary) (2014)

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» Mira també 14 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 11 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Meh ( )
  hotgandalf | Sep 11, 2020 |
Tolkien made this translation of the most famous extant Anglo Saxon poem early in his career. It's prose which disappointed me when I found out - after purchase! - it is very rhythmical, but I don't suppose it approximates the experience of reading the original very well. Still, I've always liked the story. Flagon thinks the Dragon is hard done by and that everybody (including the Dragon) should have calmed down and discussed the situation properly - that's what he'd have done! Then Beowulf could have had a nice retirement and the Dragon could have had another long nap.

There is a lengthy commentary attached to the translation, taken from Tolkien's notes for lectures and so forth. I'm in no position to weigh in on any of the scholarly arguments raised or how much modern opinion has moved on from where Tolkien stood. Apart from clarifying some obscure points, the main thing I got from reading the commentary was a sense of what issues are faced by editors trying to produce a modern edition or translation of Beowulf and by extension Anglo-Saxon and other Mediaeval literatures and a strong impression of the breadth as well as depth of Tolkien's scholarship and expertise. He demonstrates knowledge not just of Anglo-Saxon literature in toto but of all Mediaeval literature and the history of northern Europe, stretching back into the Dark Ages, including archaeological inferences. Further, he understood all the relevant philology, too. Of course this means I was left way out of my depth at times.

Perhaps (for me) the best part of this book came next - Sellic Spell. This is Tolkien's attempt to write a folk-tale based on the "fairy-story" elements of Beowulf before the historical/legendary elements were merged to produce the story we know. This is delightful. Tolkien's other published fairy stories are very good and this is no exception. His best prose occurs when he is aiming at the folk-tale style and this is no exception.

Finally there are two versions of a verse re-telling of the first part of Beowulf (in a Tolkien-contemporary idiom), which are short but fun.

If you want an accessible translation of Beowulf and a sense of what the associated academic problems are, this is a worthwhile book. If you are an expert in Anglo-Saxon literature this might prove interesting in terms of showing what Tolkien thought in detail about the greatest Anglo-Saxon poem that remains to us. If you want to study the poem seriously this is decidedly not the place to start, though. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Tolkien's retelling of this classic story is stunning! I'm impressed with both the translation as well as the commentary. This book reveals Tolkien's "day job" and how amazing scholar he was.

He has a lot of respect for the original but takes creative freedom to present it in prose. Comments reveal how much deliberation has been put into the choice of words, rhythms, and structures. Tolkien's impressive knowledge is visible in ease he has to write different versions of the story - folk tale and song. Each of them is interesting in a different way, yet still true to the original.

It is not the easiest read. This is still an old saga, with the style and language that is much different from the one that a modern reader might be familiar with. Unless you are a linguist, you will need a lot of focus and motivation to spend more time with this book. Unfortunately, Christopher Tolkien doesn't make it easier for a reader complicating things much more than it is necessary. ( )
  sperzdechly | Jul 15, 2020 |
In this volume, Christopher Tolkien edits his father’s translation of Beowulf together with a commentary composed of J.R.R. Tolkien’s lectures on the text along with Sellic Spell, “an imagined story of Beowulf in an early form” and Tolkien’s Lay of Beowulf, “a rendering of the story in the form of a ballad to be sung” (pg. xiii). Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf retells the familiar story of the hero of the Geats, who aids Hrothgar in defeating the monster Grendel, later becoming king of the Geats. Fifty years later, King Beowulf must fight a dragon, but dies of wounds even as his defeats the beast. If the story has a moral, Tolkien sums it up in lines 1283-1284: “Such shall a man’s faith be, when he thinks to win enduring fame in war: no care for his life will trouble him” (pg. 57). Though Tolkien claimed not to use allegory in his Legendarium, fans may notice similarities between the language of Beowulf and name forms Tolkien used for Rohan in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s Sellic Spell closely resembles many of his other fairy-stories, both in tone and form, and will entertain fans of these stories. Christopher Tolkien includes earlier drafts of the tale along with commentary discussing the changing language. Finally, the The Lay of Beowulf will particularly delight those who enjoy Tolkien’s songs. Overall, the work will primarily appeal to Tolkien scholars or those interested in Old English. The commentary in particular will be useful for those either teaching or learning Old English. ( )
1 vota DarthDeverell | Nov 14, 2019 |
Difficult to read even with translations. an excellent and highly important read for English/Literature class, but definitely recommended for Twelfth grade. This is thought to be one of the most important works in Old English Literature, and is the oldest surviving long poem. ( )
  alexishartline | Feb 5, 2017 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 11 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Tolkien, though he wrote poetry, did not consider himself primarily a poet, and his “Beowulf” is a prose translation. In the words of Christopher Tolkien, his father “determined to make a translation as close as he could to the exact meaning in detail of the Old English poem, far closer than could ever be attained by translation into ‘alliterative verse,’ but with some suggestion of the rhythm of the original.” In fact, the alliteration is there throughout. Consequently, you can tap out the rhythm, with your foot, line by line.
afegit per eereed | editaThe New Yorker, Joan Acocella (Jun 2, 2014)
 
This "new" Tolkien translation, originally composed in 1926, is in a prose that sticks as closely as possible to the meaning and clause-order of the original. It has great accuracy and a sense of rhythm. Its style is, like that of the original, archaic, and often has striking inversions of word-order. It has its own spell, though its movement is more crabbed than that of the equally accurate version made by GN Garmonsway in 1968
afegit per eereed | editaThe Guardian, Michael Alexander (May 29, 2014)
 
The first disappointment, then, of Tolkien’s Beowulf is that it is in prose – and long-winded prose at that. This literal rendering is faithful to the formulaic circumlocutions, inversions and amplifications of Old English poetry – a heroic style that evolved to while away a winter’s night, but which loses something when locked into the frigid grammar of a legal document: “Thereafter not far to seek was the man who elsewhere more remote sought him his couch and a bed among the lesser chambers, since now was manifested and declared thus truly to him …’
afegit per eereed | editaThe Telegraph, Jeremy Noel-Tod (May 20, 2014)
 
Rather than considering Tolkien’s interpretation a work of art to take its place aside other respected translations — like the 1966 E. Talbot Donaldson version that was replaced by the Heaney in the “Norton Anthology of English Literature” — many scholars will mine it for Tolkien’s comments on “Beowulf” and glimpses into his decision-making as he waded into gray areas of translation.
afegit per eereed | editaNew York Times, Ethan Gilsdorf (May 18, 2014)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Tolkien, J. R. R.Translation and commentaryautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Tolkien, ChristopherEditorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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Since the nature and purpose of this book could very easily be misunderstood I offer here an explanation, which I hope will also be a justification.
- Preface
The texts used by my father's prose translation of Beowulf are, superficially at least, easily described.
- Introduction to the Translation
Lo! the glory of the kings of the people of the Spear-Danes in days of old we have heard tell, how those princes did deeds of valour.
- Beowulf
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Thus bemourned the Geatish folk their master's fall, comrades of his hearth, crying that he was ever of the kings of earth of men most generous and to men most gracious, to his people most tender and for praise most eager.
Darreres paraules
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In addition to Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, this version contains extensive notes and commentary, as well as the poem Sellic Spell. Please do not combine it with other translations.
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Wikipedia en anglès (4)

The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book. From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel's terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot. But the commentary in this book includes also much from those lectures in which, while always anchored in the text, he expressed his wider perceptions. He looks closely at the dragon that would slay Beowulf 'snuffling in baffled rage and injured greed when he discovers the theft of the cup'; but he rebuts the notion that this is 'a mere treasure story', 'just another dragon tale'. He turns to the lines that tell of the burying of the golden things long ago, and observes that it is 'the feeling for the treasure itself, this sad history' that raises it to another level. 'The whole thing is sombre, tragic, sinister, curiously real. The "treasure" is not just some lucky wealth that will enable the finder to have a good time, or marry the princess. It is laden with history, leading back into the dark heathen ages beyond the memory of song, but not beyond the reach of imagination.' Sellic Spell, a 'marvellous tale', is a story written by Tolkien suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the 'historical legends' of the Northern kingdoms.

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