By Stanley B. Greenfield, Alain Renoir
Stanley B. Greenfield, one of many world’s premiere Anglo-Saxon students, writes of why, after greater than thirty years of analysis, he undertook the Herculean activity of rendering Beowulf into contemporary verse: “I sought after my translation to be not just faithful to the unique yet, because the overdue John Lennon could have placed it, ‘A Poem in Its personal Write.’ i needed it to ‘flow,’ to be effortless to learn, with the narrative circulation of a contemporary prose tale; but to indicate the rhythmic cadences of the outdated English poem. i needed it either glossy and outdated English in its reflexes and sensibilities, delighting either the overall reader and the Anglo-Saxon professional. . . . i needed it to breed the intoxication of aural contours which… may have happy and amused warriors over their cups within the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall, or these priests in Anglo-Saxon monasteries who paid extra awareness to music and to tales of Ingeld than to the lector and the gospels.”
Greenfield has succeeded to a notable measure in attaining his pursuits. An early reviewer of the manuscript, Daniel G. Calder of UCLA, wrote: “I locate it the easiest translation of Beowulf.
One of the good issues of different translations is they make the analyzing of Beowulf difficult. Greenfield’s translation speeds besides massive ease. . . students will locate the interpretation interesting as an workout within the profitable recreating of assorted points of previous English poetic style.”
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Extra resources for A Readable Beowulf: The Old English Epic Newly Translated
When brought to bear upon the action of the Nibelungenlied, the information which we are thus invited to draw from an outside source forces us to reformulate our own view of Hagen's character only a few lines before we see his head roll under the sword of a vengeful queen. Both alternatives occur in Beowulf, with the first one illustrated in Hyglac's surprise at the news of the successful cleansing of Heorot (1992-97), which prompts us to reconsider Beowulf's earlier assertion that he undertook the adventure at everybody's instigation (415-18); or in the poet's belated allegation that Beowulf had a "despised" (2184: "hean") childhood, which prompts us both to reconsider our hero's earlier boasting about his glorious youth (408-9) and to perceive a kind of structural relationship between him and the mythological Scyld Scefing, whose early childhood was also unglorious (7) but who nevertheless rose to the full glory of an ideal king and protector of the people.
XV that today only the specialist in Old English can read the original. Hence the need for translators. And there have been many who have sought to make the poem "readable" in the most basic sense of that word, turning this monument of Old English heroic literature into Modern English. But readability involves more than modernization, especially when the work in question is both a narrative and a poem. The fact that translator has succeeded translator (I furnish a list of most of the twentieth-century English poetic translators in the end matter of this book) testifies to the dissatisfaction each has felt with his or her predecessors' efforts to capture the literal meaning, narrative movement, or poetic qualities of the original.
My lexical transformation of the kenning ''hronrad" of line 10 into "whale-big seas" is both modernsounding and expansive in its ambiguity, suggesting, even as the Old English does, the huge domain Scyld has built and, additionally, the birth of the Scylding dynasty. That my nine-syllable line is capable of responding sensitively to differences in what we may call the density of the Old English poetic measures may be seen by comparing my lines 320-31, where Beowulf and his men march ringingly in their armor to Heorot, and lines 560-69, where Beowulf describes his fight with sea-monsters.