1. Archammer
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    Archammer Member

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    Beowulf

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Archammer, Jun 24, 2008.

    Woody Allen once said "Never take a college class where they make you read Beowulf." And I cant help but agree. I had to read Beowulf in high school and I can't help but feel like its a perfect example of "just because its old, doesn't mean its good".

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    I wrote a research paper on Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon tradition...

    Beowulf wasn't meant for our times. It was an embodiment of everything "good" to that Anglo-Saxon culture. These were a people in harsh climates, with warring neighbor tribes, and on the whole a very unfriendly set of circumstances. It stands to reason that the hero, Beowulf, is arrogant, superhuman, and destined for greatness. It's what they wanted to read. He was sort of their role model, y'know?

    But for today's readership, Beowulf has lost most of its appeal. We've read it all before, in bits and pieces. Tolkien was an avid Beowulf-lover, and some of its influence is undoubtedly in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Other people have taken different things. So to us, especially fantasy readers, it seems rather...bland. And today, half the traits that made him "good" to the Anglo-Saxons make him cliche or unlikeable to us.

    It also depends on the translation. Some of the translations are far more enjoyable than others.

    None of this means I enjoyed Beowulf. I can just sort of understand why I didn't like it too much.
     
  3. LibbyAnn
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    LibbyAnn Contributing Member

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    I liked it. Once, though. It's not one of those that I keep going back to over and over again because I enjoyed it so much. I may have just had a good translation, but I read it in one of my freshman lit classes (in college), appreciated it for what it was, and enjoyed the time I spent reading it.

    I don't think it's bad - it's just different.
     
  4. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen Senior Member

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    I completely agree with this, except that I read it in high school.
     
  5. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    I loved it, but I'm weird like that. I had a hard time reading it, but then I got an audiobook version, the one translated and read by Seamus Heaney.

    What I realized was that Beowulf was not meant to be read. It was meant to be heard aloud, and that made all the difference. It was apart of an oral tradition, and the Heaney translation managed to keep the lyrical qualities of the language without making it inaccessible to the modern listener.

    What I liked the best about it was that this is our culture, 1,500 years ago. It's so amazingly foreign, but somehow familiar. It's like the time I learned that I was (distantly) related to the Hapsburgs. Suddenly, there was a whole era of history to which I had a personal connection, and the past gained a sense of immediacy.

    Beowulf is the story of what English was before it was English, and history and mythology that English speakers don't usually have. And I love it.
     
  6. JanesLife
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    JanesLife Member

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    Heh. Maybe it's just that I have a mental block against the classics (The Odyssey, The Illiad, Beowulf), but I can't seem to find them interesting. Isn't this terrible? I worked my way through these works, and sure, I got a few good bits out of them, but I really can't say that I loved either. I think I convinced myself to finish them because so there is so much poetry that references the classical works.

    I enjoyed Dante's Inferno a bit more, and liked Joyce's Ulysses. I suppose the epic-format doesn't really suit me well. I got a bit frustrated in the boring bits. :E I guess it's the same thing that made me want to rip up my book when Frodo and Sam were chilling out on a rock for a gazillion chapters in Lord of the Rings. Ah well. Maybe I'll go back and read some of this stuff later and eat all of my words.
     
  7. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    For me, it's Russian literature that I can't stand. I'm sure it's great, but I hate it and will refuse to touch it if I can. It's my opinion and that's fine for me, but if someone else likes it, who am I to argue? Seek out what you enjoy reading, that's the most important thing.
     
  8. cawalabe
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    cawalabe Member

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    Boy, I agree with most of that. Tolkien is so overrated it's a crime. Beowulf was a good story to some degree but was poorly told. Virgil is another from the Homer tree that could bore me to tears. _The Aeneas_ is so over-written that it ruins the story. Dante's Comedy got much better as it went along I thought. _The Inferno_ was easily the worst section for me. Shakespeare's _The Tempest_ is the most overrated of his plays I think too.
     
  9. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I had to read Beowulf this past school year, my senior year. I didn't particularly like it, but let me tell you one thing for sure. The book is far better than the crappy 3-D movie.
     

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