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[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
Seamus Heaney
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
W. W. Norton & Company

Rating: 9/10 ?


September 4, 2007
Tinkering with literary classics is always risky business, and monumental work such as Beowulf even more so, but if anyone were to approach the task, beloved literary mastermind and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney would be at the top of any list of writers capable of tackling the job. Heaney, an Irish poet, made his reputation writing quite a bit about his native country, and if you've ever taken a modern literature course his body of work surely needs no introduction.

I was a bit surprised when Heaney's name came up in association with Beowulf, and I wasn't exactly sure how his style and take would adapt to the timeless Old English tale of heroism and honor. Other, well-anthologized translations into modern English are respectable in their own rights, and I was curious if the world was really ready--or really in need for that matter--for yet another take on the tale.

Having read a few of Beowulf's older modern English translations (and also giving a shot at the original, Old English version with, shall we say, minimal results), I am happy to say that the literary world will definitely benefit from Heaney's take. The Irish lyricist has made the story more beautiful, more accessible, and far more fun to read than it has ever been before, and I would go so far as to say that A New Verse Translation should be recommended to even the casual reader as an approachable, albeit heavy, leisurely reading commitment.

As a student of English, the pleasure of reading a handful of other translations of Beowulf is far eclipsed by Heaney's, a work that had me enthralled from the early going and chomping at the bit to reach its final pages. Heaney's language, structuring and word choices relay the classic sago so vividly and so freshly so as to make the story easier to follow than more rigid translations, and that relaxed delivery in turn affords the reader space to actually begin to care about the characters. Heaney's accomplishment is quite a feat, considering how archetypal, and old for that matter, his source material is.

With the forthcoming big-budget, big-screen incarnation of Beowulf, starring Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, and Crispin Glover, on the way in a year or so, I would more than recommend that anyone interested take a crack at Seamus Heaney's translation--it gives the story a fine presentation, and opens up a whole new world of young readers to what is arguably one of the best tales ever told.

Reviewed by Trent Moore
Currently attending Athens State University in Alabama as an English major, Trent Moore is a contributing writer for LAS as well as publications such as soundthesirens.com.

See other reviews by Trent Moore

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