The translation that "rides boldly through the reefs of scholarship" (The Observer) is combined with first-rate annotation. No reading knowledge of Old English is assumed. Heaney's clear and insightful introduction to Beowulf provides students with an understanding of both the poem's history in the canon and Heaney's own translation process.
An epic poem is a performance. The telling of Beowulf carries something of the days of its pre-literary composition, as it evolved as something memorised, half spoken and half sung, over many generations. The single manuscript we have, from about 1000 AD, is the end result of a great chain of poetic adaptation. Of all new versions Seamus Heaneys (1999) has made the most striking impact, in part for his willingness to experiment, to be a new scop or oral poet, to depart at times from the exact text and join the tradition when there was no such thing. The licence such an approach adopts can make for a riveting poem in itself, a work of wonder. But there is a different route to the flame of the original. J.D. Winters rendering of the Beowulf song accepts the text as historical fact, and by a gradual revelation of its deeper music, discovers an illumination from within.
BEOWULF tells of the tale of a Scandinavian hero in lands that would become what is now Denmark and Sweden. A monster, Grendel, has arrived in the kingdom of the Danes, devouring its men and women for over a decade until Beowulf arrives to save them. Santiago Garcia and David Rubin unite to bring forward the myth of Beowulf, which has endured for a thousand years, inspired an epic poem, become afoundational piece of English literature, and influenced generations of authors: from J.R.R. Tolkien and Seamus Heaney to a multitude of Hollywood screenwriters.