So What/Who is Beowulf?
Beowulf is the name of a heroic character in a poem that dates anywhere from 700 to 1,000 AD. The manuscript dates to about 1010 but the story is believed to have been originated around 700. In this epic poem Beowulf is a heroic character that embarks on many adventures but mainly faces three protagonists through his life. First is the Beast Grendel, second is Grendels Mother, and finally (after he is king) a dragon.
So, Why the allure of Beowulf and why has it survived so long?
Beowulf stands as one of the two founding works in the whole genre of epic fantasy (The Odyssey) being the other. And Beowulf is the founding work for the whole Arthurian/Scandinavian and Medieval sub-genre (The predecessor to the King Arthur stuff). It is the work that started the whole thing and JRR Tolkien himself gave much credit to Beowulf as an inspiration for his work. (He used Beowulf extensively in his academic work).
Can you see the relevance to modern man? It is easy to interpret the story as the struggle of a man in the three stages of his life. In each stage he must face and slay the beast. This theme is why the story of Beowulf has survived for so long and is why it is so applicaple to us in the modern day.
Learning More about Beowulf -The Movie and Free Podcast
There are a lot of great things going on in the world of Beowulf including the movie (Official Beowulf Movie website) and a podcast that features many of the big names in the cast and crew (Beowulf Movie Podcast) There are upcoming interviews with Robert Zemeckis and Angelina Jolie.
Looking for a good version of the story? There is a lot of Beowulf stuff out there. Let me guide you to a few choice gems:
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) This is considered to be one of the best modern renditions of Beowulf. I have this book and it has an absolutely wonderful Introduction. If you are looking for one beowulf book this is probably the one you should get.
Grendel This is a unique version of the story of Beowulf. It is a re-telling of the story from the point of view of the Beast (Grendel). Although I haven't read this it seems like a really interesting take on the story.
Looking for a unique illustrated version of the story?
Candlewick Press has a really wonderful version of Beowulf. It is illustrated by the award-winning artist John Howe who was the lead artist for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Candlewick Press is a unique publishing house with a lot of beautiful medieval and fantasy works aimed at children and young adults. You should take a peek at what they have. Candlewick Press
A Tolkien "Did you know"
Tolkien, as I mentioned was a scholar of Beowulf, and he gave lectures and wrote a paper on the story of Beowulf. It is believed that without Tolkien's work the story of Beowulf wouldn't be remembered today. You can read more about his Beowulf paper here: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
- Beowulf The Free Podcast
- Beowulf on Wikipedia
- Beowulf books at Amazon.com
- Beowulf the Illustrated book at Candlewick Press
- Tokien and Beowulf
- View the Movie Trailer and learn more about the movie and podcast