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Beowulf: Parallel Text Paperback – 31 Dec 1975
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I bought this book because of its containing the full text of Beowulf plus the running modern English translation on facing pages. In addition to this, I expected perhaps the usual brief introduction which such works are frequently accompanied by.
But instead, the book turned out to be about twice as thick as what I had anticipated. Yes, the first 50 pages or so are indeed the type of introduction and pronunciation guide I had expected, followed by the 200 pages containing the actual text and translation. But above and beyond this there is also an additional almost 200 pages to the book, and it is this portion which has made me doubly happy with my purchase.
Included in the second half of the book is a very helpful chart of the royal genealogies dealt with in the work. This is then followed by literally page after page of absolutely wonderful and extensive background material and analysis which deal with everything from the history of the manuscript and theories as to its authorship and dating, to broader background material on Anglo-Saxon society, its way of life and traditions. I found hours of fascinating and rewarding reading here which I never expected. It's almost like getting an extra book!
And as if this was not enough, to top it all off they have concluded the book with a section which gives full glosses for all the words in the 8 most key sections of the text. -- No need to spend hours frantically flipping in the dictionary, it's all here done for you!
Being a newcomer to the field of Old English, this book has been everything I have been looking for. And considering the modest price of this volume, I feel I have gotten a real bargain and am happy to give this book my highest recommendation to all.
The reader is provided with an intralinear translation, old english verse on one page, modern verse translation on the other. Vocabulary, pronunciation guides, and annotations are all provided. The sounds of this poetry are raw and powerful in a way that can only be weakly imitated in modern English, rich with wry, textured prosody. I found this book based on an offhand mention by a professor when I was in college, a two year search of university and second-hand bookstores without result, followed up over ten years later with an Amazon alert entry that finally bore fruit many years after that. A luminous accomplishment.
Sencirly Thomas M. W. Robinson Jr.