Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel! Beowulf is the classic Old English heroic-elegiac poem, presented here in a new verse translation. The poem follows the rise and fall of its titular hero on adventures in Denmark in his youth, and facing a dragon as the King of Geatland in his old age.
This edition is fully annotated throughout, and includes a translator's preface and introduction, pedigree diagrams for the major royal houses, and a full bibliography.
If you have never experienced the Anglo-Saxon world of savage violence, stark beauty, and deeply-felt sorrow--or if you are looking for a fresh new alliterative verse translation--you will find here one of the finest foundational epic poems of the English-speaking world.
"""In short, this new translation will remind readers of the joy of taking something known and reevaluating it once more; not to bend it to our modern view but in fact to reclaim its truth and present the modern reader with a raw and honest translation of a legend which has irrevocably shaped storytelling."" (★★★★★ Stars, a""Must Read"") --Kristiana Reed, DISCOVERY (Mar. 19, 2021)
""This new verse translation is both poignant and powerful. Carnabuci demonstrates a subtle interpretive pen, a deep reverence for the original text, and a penchant for poetic pacing that makes this latest version a pleasure to read."" (★★★★ Stars) --SELF-PUBLISHING REVIEW (Mar. 9, 2021)
""Readers will be rewarded with a translation that brings the poetry back to this archaic masterpiece."" (4.5/5; ""IndieReader Approved"") --Christina Doka, INDIE READER (April 7, 2021)
""Magnificent and breathtaking... Carnabuci adeptly blends engrossing storytelling with seamless description and expert worldbuilding, and his tidy, engaging verses offer fresh perspectives on Beowulf both as a warrior and as a human. Staying true to the Anglo-Saxon language it was written in during the eighth century, Carnabuci effortlessly preserves the originality of the work, giving the elegiac narrative of the great Scandinavian hero a fresh and compelling reality for contemporary readers. Lovers of epic poetry will be bewitched."" --PRAIRIES BOOK REVIEW (Feb. 14, 2021).
""Beowulf: A Verse Translation from the Anglo-Saxon should be a foundation piece in any collection strong in early Anglo-Saxon history, culture, and language, with its powerful new series of observations and insights backed by extensive footnote references. Not only does the preface explore the history of the piece and the cultural flavours that Anglo-Saxon heritage imparted, but it explores the roots of Anglo-Saxon literary representations, studies, and the fallacies and inherent prejudices in scholarly approaches to the piece. By explaining the translator's challenges and approach to the artificiality of the language, Carnabuci provides invaluable insights into a translator's tasks and options. These explanations and this book should be part of any reasoned consideration of Beowulf studies."" --Diane Donovan, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW (Jul. 2021 issue)"
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Average rating from 3 members
Just to be clear: Beowulf is not a 'I like to read it for the story' kind of book. It is an 'I appreciate its translation and the historical and literary implications of this' kind of book though. And I did appreciate the translation and the choices the translator made a lot. Including the foreword where some of those choices are explained.
I have always been interested in Germanic languages (Frisian and Dutch are my mother tongues, also fluent in German); - I learned about Beowulf in school and via my admiration for Tolkien. A renewed acquaintance with Beowulf followed at uni - ; I have several translations in different languages, so when this translation came up, I became curious and simply had to read it. This translation is easy to read, even for an audience unfamiliar with the original text. (Beowulf is a dirge about savage, and tragic things, utterly shot through with dead, sorrow and tragedy.) With an introduction explaining why he chose this approach, - Carnabuci does not want to overthrow the well-known Heaney and Tolkien translations - , ‘they are hard to overstate’ - , comes with a refreshing view and translation instead. Debating whether his translation is the right one, he merely hopes the reader will appreciate Beowulf, ‘the only one of its kind, written by a nameless man long ago.’ And I did :) 5 stars
Beowulf and I have what I would call a... unique relationship. I like the story overall and appreciate it's place in history, but in truth, I cannot stand it. There is no reason that reading such an awesome tale should feel like a chore, but sometimes I feel like I'd rather be fighting Grendel myself than drag my eyes across one more line. However, I think Mr. Carnabuci might have changed that. Alright, the nitpicking first: I don't think anyone has, or will manage to make the opening lines of Beowulf sound immediately compelling to the average reader; I know, its a very biased opinion coming from someone who only engages in classics casually, but I'm sticking to my guns here. Mr. A. B. F. C's version isn't an exception. It starts off a bit clunky (i.e., academic), for a layman, but given my long-held belief about the first line being impossible, it would be unfair to count that as a mark against the text. Now the positives: Despite the somewhat stilted first page, I genuinely like this translation. By the second page I fell into the cadence of the lines and easily got caught up in the momentum of the story. The alliteration is SO vivid and punchy; a few times I caught myself silently mouthing the words because it felt so natural to wrap my teeth around "strife-strong nations" and "The Wyrd did work a wickedness". Aw man. Now I want an audiobook. Also the art is nice and moody. I wouldn't mind seeing more of it. Overall, I've enjoyed it more than I expected and I hope to see this version picked up by educators. As far as accessibility goes, its leagues ahead of what's typically used to introduce high school students to Beowulf. It manages to be comprehensible without falling into the vernacular of "no-fear Shakespeare". Don't get me wrong, I love, love, LOVE informal translations, however, I personally believe that to truly engage with literature (at a critical level) we should be challenged to meet the text halfway. This translation puts the reader within reach of that goal without totally usurping the ivory-tower tradition of placing aesthetics over accessibility . Still not convinced? Here, I found the translator's preface so lovely, that I'm willing to take my lunch break to type it out so you don't miss it. "Beowulf is a savage, brutal, sad, tragic thing, reeking of a characteristically Anglo-Saxon obsession with sorrow... However, if you can stand to dig in the darkness long enough, beneath it you will find a truth so elemental it can exist only in myth. It cannot be quantified by science, nor vivisected by sociologists, nor co-opted by politicians, nor deconstructed by postmodernists, because it is transcendent, ageless, immutable, and absolute... Please enjoy-- or perhaps that is not quite the correct word-- please *appreciate* this poem, the only one of its kind, written by a nameless man long ago, that honeys with poetry the cup containing a bitter draught of sorrow and death." Don't you just adore that? I do.