Review: Beowulf

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney

How does one exactly review Beowulf, the epic poem that kicks off so many an English curriculum? It’s poetry instead of a novel or a short story, and it was written to be sung to an audience vastly different than myself. (There’s a reason I don’t review poetry!) I can’t review it as I would review a novel written after, well, the invention of the form in the Middle East and Asia. However, I can talk about why I personally like the poem, its construction and the characteristics of its verse, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s landmark 1936 essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”. (Because if there’s a way to tie it back to Tolkien, I will do everything in my power to do so.) This isn’t a traditional review, but a sort of casual overview about what I’ve been learning about the text.

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