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am 1. September 2014
A few days ago we finally get a chance to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of classic epic ‘Beowulf’ but this edition besides it includes additional content which makes it interesting and definitely recommended purchase.
Though it was always difficult to compare translations especially when it comes to such masterpieces such as ‘Beowulf’ I would agree with fellow reviewer that Seamus Heaney's verse translation has its advantages in terms of emotional, while Tolkien’s is more complex, in a good sense.
I was amazed to learn how early in his writer career Tolkien decided to embark on such brave journey of Beowulf translation which cannot be seen in any way.
Besides beautiful translation in prose form this book excels in additional materials which come along. Inside reader will find footnotes made by J.R.R. son Christopher Tolkien about the translation process that started from the manuscripts J.R.R. had left behind; next, there are more than two hundred pages of writer’s lecture excepts about the poem, ‘The Lay of Beowulf’, a shorter story version made in verses made for kids to be used as a bedtime story and probably the most important, ‘Sellic Spell’ additional fiction piece J.R.R. wrote that tells a story about the previous Beowulf adventures.
Overall, speaking only about the translation though I cannot say that J.R.R. Tolkien translation is better or worse than Heaney’s, my suggestion would be to read it both to see which one suits you more. Though given how great both of them are in their own special way, maybe you will do as I did – have them both one next to the other on the shelf.