Beowulf: A Likeness
Yale University Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 127 pages
Beowulf, the primary epic of the English language, is a powerful heroic poem eloquently expressive of the Anglo-Saxon culture that produced it. In this beautiful book a designer, a poet, and a specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature recreate Beowulf for a modern audience. Interweaving evocative images, a new interpretation in verse, and a running commentary that helps clarify the action and setting of the poem as well as the imagery, the book brings new life to this ancient masterpiece.
Randolph Swearer's oblique and allusive images create an archaic, mysterious atmosphere by depicting in forms and shadows the world of Germanic antiquity--Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon art, artifacts, and scenery. At the same time, Raymond Oliver gives Beowulf a world in which to live, filling in the cultural gaps not with a thick matrix of footnotes but with poetry itself. Unlike many translations of Beowulf in existence, Oliver's retelling of the epic uses modern verse forms for poetic effect and includes a wealth of historically authentic descriptions, characterizations, and explanations necessary for modern readers. Marijane Osborn completes the process of restoring context to the poem by supplying a commentary to clarify the historical and geographical dimensions of the story as well as the imagery that accompanies it. All three work together to bring a likeness of an old and elusive tale to today's reader.
"The book's design and the commentary on it provide a unique visual complement to Oliver's poem... A strange and moving story, compellingly told and seriously interesting to any serious reader of books."--Fred C. Robinson, from the Introduction
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Aescher ancient Anglo-Saxon benches Beowulf manuscript blade blood Breca bright burned byrnie Christian cups Danes Danish dark dead death died door drink eyes fate fear feast fight Finn fire Fjord flames forever Freawaru Frisians Gamle Leire Geatish Geatland Geats gifts gold golden Grcndcl Grendel's Grendel's mother Haethcyn hand Hart Hall heard Heardred Hengest hero hero's Higelac Hildeburh hilt Hnaef Hrothgar Hrunting Hygd images Kate Breakey killed king land landscape light lord loved Marijane Osborn mead mead-hall modern monster never night Old English Oliver's poem Onela Oseberg ship pagan photograph poet poet's prince prow Randolph Swearer Raymond Oliver readers roof Scyld shield ship slowly snow spear spoke stare stave church stood story strength Sutton Hoo helmet Swedes sword tell thanes thought took treasure twisted Unferth verse Viking Age wall Wealhtheow Wedergeats Wedermark West Stow who'd Wiglaf winter wood words Yeavering