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Bring On the Monsters: Tolkien's Translation of Beowulf To Be Published 94

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Tolkien was often criticized by his academic colleagues for wasting time on fiction, even though that fiction has probably done more to popularize 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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  • Re:News for nerds..? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Monday March 24, 2014 @06:51PM (#46569261) Homepage Journal

    I'ts hard to read now. the pacing, the structuring it's all pretty much out of date.

    And yes, I am a fan, I am literally in the fan club, had an 8 foot map of Middle Earth as a child and I wore a Frodo Lives! button.
    I have spent hours explaining to people that there are Two types of Giant Eagles and shows exactly why they couldn't fly the ring bearer any closer to mordor.

    Clearly, I ahave a passion for his works.
    I recently read them to my children.. well, 5-7 years ago, and they where pretty painful in a lot of ways

  • An example (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @09:37PM (#46570433)
    An example of a good translator - getting from this request to an automatic poet in Lem's Cyberiad in Polish to this required brilliance:

    a poem about a haircut! But lofty, nobel, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter "s"!

    Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
    She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
    Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
    Silently scheming,
    Sightlessly seeking
    Some savage, spectacular suicide.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato