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"J.R.R. Tolkien’s Translation of ‘Beowulf’ Is Published"
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SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 19 2014, 4:28pm

Post #1 of 40 (1418 views)
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"J.R.R. Tolkien’s Translation of ‘Beowulf’ Is Published" Can't Post

Just a reminder, Tolkien's Beowulf releases later this week, May 22, 2014 'to be precise.'

In the meantime here's a good read from the New York Times: Waving His Wand at ‘Beowulf’


Quote
“Beowulf” was an early love, and a kind of Rosetta Stone to his creative work. His study of the poem, which he called “this greatest of the surviving works of ancient English poetic art,” informed his thinking about myth and language.

But Tolkien was skeptical of converting this Old English poem into modern English. In a 1940 essay, “On Translating Beowulf,” he wrote that turning “Beowulf” into “plain prose” could be an “abuse.”

But he did it anyway...


...ah the impetuousness of youth!


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on May 19 2014, 4:29pm)


Arannir
Valinor


May 19 2014, 4:56pm

Post #2 of 40 (963 views)
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Interesting. [In reply to] Can't Post

As a German I read Beowulf in another English version during the years I studied in the United Kingdom.

I even learnt some of it by heart back at the time to train my English pronounciation (I did some acting back then at the University theatre). Hard, but quite enjoyable.


“All good stories deserve embellishment."

Praise is subjective. And so is criticism.

"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at."


Darkstone
Immortal


May 19 2014, 4:57pm

Post #3 of 40 (968 views)
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I heard he felt the same way... [In reply to] Can't Post

...about turning LOTR into a movie.

******************************************
Now doth Tinuviel put forth her skill and fairy-magic, and she sews Beren into this fell and makes him to the likeness of a great cat, and she teaches him how to sit and sprawl, to step and bound and trot in the semblance of a cat, till Huan's very whiskers bristled at the sight, and thereat Beren and Tinuviel laughed. Never however could Beren learn to screech or wail or to purr like any cat that ever walked, nor could Tinuviel awaken a glow in the dead eyes of the catskin -- "but we must put up with that," said she, "and thou hast the air of a very noble cat if thou but hold thy tongue." Then did they bid farewell to Huan and set out for the halls of Melko by easy journeys, for Beren was in great discomfort and heat within the fur of Oikeroi, and Tinuviel's heart became lighter awhile than it had been for long, and she stroked Beren or pulled his tail, and Beren was angry because he could not lash it in answer as fiercely as he wished.
-Book of Lost Tales II


demnation
Rohan

May 19 2014, 9:51pm

Post #4 of 40 (958 views)
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It think it is fair to say at this point [In reply to] Can't Post

that the only reason this is getting published is because they can put Tolkien's name on the cover. I guess it shows that The Fall of Arthur and the baffling, unreadable Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun sold well enough to bring this out. I would also say that Beowulf is of rather marginal interest to even the most dedicated Tolkien fan, much less a general reader ship. But I am probably wrong, as usual.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


Darkstone
Immortal


May 19 2014, 10:00pm

Post #5 of 40 (950 views)
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Admittedly... [In reply to] Can't Post

..we Beowulf fans are a very small demographic.

******************************************
Now doth Tinuviel put forth her skill and fairy-magic, and she sews Beren into this fell and makes him to the likeness of a great cat, and she teaches him how to sit and sprawl, to step and bound and trot in the semblance of a cat, till Huan's very whiskers bristled at the sight, and thereat Beren and Tinuviel laughed. Never however could Beren learn to screech or wail or to purr like any cat that ever walked, nor could Tinuviel awaken a glow in the dead eyes of the catskin -- "but we must put up with that," said she, "and thou hast the air of a very noble cat if thou but hold thy tongue." Then did they bid farewell to Huan and set out for the halls of Melko by easy journeys, for Beren was in great discomfort and heat within the fur of Oikeroi, and Tinuviel's heart became lighter awhile than it had been for long, and she stroked Beren or pulled his tail, and Beren was angry because he could not lash it in answer as fiercely as he wished.
-Book of Lost Tales II


demnation
Rohan

May 19 2014, 10:04pm

Post #6 of 40 (938 views)
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Well, I like Beowulf too [In reply to] Can't Post

Kind of. Sometimes. It really depends on who does the translation, really. But like stated in the article, every Beowulf scholar has a working translation of the poem, but that doesn't mean that they should all be published.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 19 2014, 10:22pm

Post #7 of 40 (939 views)
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*waits patiently for postman to deliver long-pre-ordered copy* [In reply to] Can't Post

Cool


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






Beorn's Bees
Lorien

May 19 2014, 11:46pm

Post #8 of 40 (942 views)
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Unreadable? I love Sigurd and Gudrún... [In reply to] Can't Post

I fail to understand why you would possibly think it's unreadable. I think it is a wonderful interpretation of the story.


IdrilLalaith
Rivendell

May 20 2014, 2:31am

Post #9 of 40 (913 views)
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I enjoyed Beowulf when I read it [In reply to] Can't Post

Isn't it pretty standard reading for a lot of English majors? I was under the impression that Beowulf, while maybe not super popular, is pretty well-known.

TolkienBlog.com


SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 20 2014, 4:01am

Post #10 of 40 (931 views)
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Hmmm [In reply to] Can't Post

While I agree that another version of Beowulf may not be what the world needs right now... I am looking forward to the glimpse it should afford into the mind of the young professor. I suppose one would have to have read other translations first to get a proper sense of Tolkien's hand in this one (?)

Hopefully Tolkien's Beowulf will feature some more excellent essays by his son Christopher (CT). As I said elsewhere about The Fall of Arthur, while I enjoyed the story and where he seemed to be going with it, the real value of the book is found in CT's essays.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 20 2014, 4:02am

Post #11 of 40 (910 views)
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That's the spirit [In reply to] Can't Post

Laugh


demnation
Rohan

May 20 2014, 4:35am

Post #12 of 40 (902 views)
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You're right [In reply to] Can't Post

You made me realize that a big chunk of all these books are taken up by CT's essays and commentary. So that makes me think that these books are published for people who are interested in Tolkien the artist rather than Beowulf scholars.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


Darkstone
Immortal


May 20 2014, 1:44pm

Post #13 of 40 (884 views)
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Had to read it in high school. [In reply to] Can't Post

Now they only teach it in college.

Soon it'll only be taught in grad school.

******************************************
Now doth Tinuviel put forth her skill and fairy-magic, and she sews Beren into this fell and makes him to the likeness of a great cat, and she teaches him how to sit and sprawl, to step and bound and trot in the semblance of a cat, till Huan's very whiskers bristled at the sight, and thereat Beren and Tinuviel laughed. Never however could Beren learn to screech or wail or to purr like any cat that ever walked, nor could Tinuviel awaken a glow in the dead eyes of the catskin -- "but we must put up with that," said she, "and thou hast the air of a very noble cat if thou but hold thy tongue." Then did they bid farewell to Huan and set out for the halls of Melko by easy journeys, for Beren was in great discomfort and heat within the fur of Oikeroi, and Tinuviel's heart became lighter awhile than it had been for long, and she stroked Beren or pulled his tail, and Beren was angry because he could not lash it in answer as fiercely as he wished.
-Book of Lost Tales II


Morthoron
Gondor


May 20 2014, 3:58pm

Post #14 of 40 (901 views)
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"Beowulf" may not be what the world wants right now... [In reply to] Can't Post

But it may be what it needs. Even if it only draws a handful of students into English lit., philology or medieval studies, it will have done more than any number of current fantasy novels.

Just think how many people who were fascinated by reading The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings as youngsters have embraced more serious studies by delving further into Tolkien's scholarly work (I, myself, am indebted in part to Tolkien's influence in my collegial studies).

My hat's off to Christopher Tolkien in this endeavor, and I am eagerly awaiting this translation, and particularly "Sellic Spell", a Tolkien devised Anglo-Saxon tale reminiscent of Beowulf.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Darkstone
Immortal


May 20 2014, 4:25pm

Post #15 of 40 (882 views)
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You might remember Curious' 43 part Beowulf discussion on Off Topic. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lots of Tolkien connections.

******************************************
Now doth Tinuviel put forth her skill and fairy-magic, and she sews Beren into this fell and makes him to the likeness of a great cat, and she teaches him how to sit and sprawl, to step and bound and trot in the semblance of a cat, till Huan's very whiskers bristled at the sight, and thereat Beren and Tinuviel laughed. Never however could Beren learn to screech or wail or to purr like any cat that ever walked, nor could Tinuviel awaken a glow in the dead eyes of the catskin -- "but we must put up with that," said she, "and thou hast the air of a very noble cat if thou but hold thy tongue." Then did they bid farewell to Huan and set out for the halls of Melko by easy journeys, for Beren was in great discomfort and heat within the fur of Oikeroi, and Tinuviel's heart became lighter awhile than it had been for long, and she stroked Beren or pulled his tail, and Beren was angry because he could not lash it in answer as fiercely as he wished.
-Book of Lost Tales II


SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 21 2014, 12:37am

Post #16 of 40 (871 views)
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Good points. [In reply to] Can't Post

Obviously there's room for Tolkien's Beowulf! His work with Sir Gawain set the standard for every other version out there -- and there are many. I'm betting his Beowulf will shake the tree vigourously.

And you are right of course about the many people who trace their interest in English Literature to Tolkien -- his enthusiasm is infectious, his love of language ensorcelling. Wink

Why just today an aged book-seller told me that Tolkien is still widely credited with reviving interest in Old and Middle English, and Old Norse. (Of course I knew that already but it's nice to find it on the lips of someone in real life.)


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on May 21 2014, 12:43am)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 21 2014, 12:40am

Post #17 of 40 (855 views)
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Before my time I'm afraid... [In reply to] Can't Post

Hopefully this publication will spawn a lot of discussion too.


IdrilLalaith
Rivendell

May 21 2014, 3:41am

Post #18 of 40 (840 views)
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I read it in high school, too [In reply to] Can't Post

But it wasn't required reading. I had a friend who majored in English and she had to read it in the original language, which I thought was fascinating.

Sometimes I think that I should have majored in English Lit instead of business.

TolkienBlog.com


Terazed
Bree

May 21 2014, 4:30am

Post #19 of 40 (837 views)
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I agree... [In reply to] Can't Post

Reading epic verse does take a little getting used to however and the stabreim is a bit further off of the beaten path. It does work very nice with music however.


Riven Delve
Tol Eressea


May 22 2014, 4:40pm

Post #20 of 40 (803 views)
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A high school reading assignment for me too [In reply to] Can't Post

in my college-prep English class. I can't remember who the translator was, but I remember the strange thrill I got over the rhythms and cadences. (I was in the minority--all the other kids in the class hated it.) When we had finished, our decidedly odd teacher continued his yearly tradition: he played (on his old record player) Howard Hanson's Lament for Beowulf at top volume. (The best part was the classroom doors of other teachers slamming all down the hall.)

I know Tolkien's lectures on Beowulf were quite popular at Oxford. I don't know how the time frames overlap for when he gave those lectures and when he translated this, but nevertheless I can't wait to read this new book--although I have no idea when I'll be able to get to it!


“Tollers,” Lewis said to Tolkien, “there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.”



SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 7:53pm

Post #21 of 40 (813 views)
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According to the NYT piece [In reply to] Can't Post

from the lead post, Tolkien finished his Beowulf translation in 1926, while he delivered his "Beowulf lecture" in 1936 (a year before The Hobbit was published).

The article also says that CT harmonized 3 of his father's manuscripts to make the present translation, but it doen'tt say whether all three were completed by 1926 or sometime between then and Tolkien's death in 1973.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 8:09pm

Post #22 of 40 (797 views)
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Thank you for the link SirD [In reply to] Can't Post

I can wonder if the restless editor in JRRT would ever have been happy with the translation, even with more revision time. I am concerned with the fact that he did not ever wish it published, yet I also want to read it. Quite the dilemna...Wink

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








Riven Delve
Tol Eressea


May 22 2014, 8:12pm

Post #23 of 40 (799 views)
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The date of the other manuscripts [In reply to] Can't Post

CT used in the editing would be interesting to discover. Perhaps CT kindly included some notes to that effect in the book. Smile


“Tollers,” Lewis said to Tolkien, “there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.”



demnation
Rohan

May 23 2014, 5:56am

Post #24 of 40 (813 views)
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Here is a good review [In reply to] Can't Post

from Slate.
http://www.slate.com/...lation_reviewed.html

I like the fact (despite her rousing objections to a few things) that she lets everyone down gently when saying "No, it isn't great." and "No, it is certainly not better than Heaney's." But I don't think anybody expected the opposite of either of those. She also remembers that Tolkien never intended this for publication and that the commentary is perhaps the best thing about it. (which I've seen others here guess at.)

The fact that Tolkien more or less finished this and then sat on it for years bothers me a little. So, in a weird sort of nod to his apparent wishes, I think I'll be skipping this and stick with Heaney if I ever get a hankering for Beowulf again.

"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule." Gandalf, "The Last Debate."


SirDennisC
Half-elven


May 23 2014, 4:44pm

Post #25 of 40 (781 views)
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Iunno, that review made me want it more [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the link!

Of course Tolkien's will be compared to Heaney's translation. (As I said before, I prefer Michael Alexander's.) And where would Heaney (or Alexander for that matter) be without Tolkien? It's too bad neither are around to defend their choices (Alexander is, I wonder what he thinks of it?).

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