JRR Tolkien’s Beowulf translation to finally be published 90 years late

By Daniel S Levine,

JRR Tolkien’s translation of the epic 11th century poem Beowulf will finally be released, 90 years after the Lord of the Rings author completed it.

The edition was edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien. According to The Guardian, Tolkien finished his translation in 1926 and did not intend for it to be published, Christopher said in a statement. However, it will be the first book published under the Tolkien estate’s new deal with HarperCollins.

In addition to the poem, The Bookseller reports that bonus material will include lectures Tolkien gave in the 1930s at Oxford. The lectures will act as a commentary for the translation.

“From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision,” Christopher said. “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.”

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary will be released by HarperCollins in hardcover on May 22.

Beowulf has long been studied by academics and the late Seamus Heaney earned the Whitbread book of year award for his 1999 translation. It’s the longest poem in Old English and is believed to have been written in the early 11th century.

image courtesy of Amazon



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