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+ - Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf to be Published

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Tolkien was often criticised by his academic colleagues for wasting time on fiction, even though that fiction has probably done more to popularise medieval literature than the work of 100 scholars. Now John Garth reports that HarperCollins plans to publish Tolkien's long-awaited 1926 translation of the oldest surviving Old English epic poem about Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, who kills the monster Grendel with his bare hands and Grendel's mother with a sword of a giant that he found in her lair. Verlyn Flieger, identifies Beowulf as representing one of the two poles of Tolkien's imagination: the darker half, in which we all face eventual defeat – a complete contrast to the sudden joyous upturn of hope that he also expresses so superbly. "In truth," writes Garth, "it is his ability to move between the two attitudes that really lends him emotional power as a writer." Tolkien pushed the monsters to the forefront arguing that they "represent the impermanence of human life, the mortal enemy that can strike at the heart of everything we hold dear, the force against which we need to muster all our strength – even if ultimately we may lose the fight." Without the monsters, the peculiarly northern courage of Beowulf and his men is meaningless. Tolkien, veteran of the Somme, knew that it was not. "It will be fascinating to see how [Tolkien] exercised his literary, historical and linguistic expertise on the poem," concludes Garth adding that Tolkien was the arch-revivalist of literary medievalism, who made it seem so relevant to the modern world. "I can't wait to see his version of the first English epic.""
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Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf to be Published

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