A NEW STATESMAN AND IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the acclaimed novel The Mere Wife. Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf – and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment students around the world – there is a radical new verse interpretation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements never before translated into English.
A man seeks to prove himself as a hero.
A monster seeks silence in his territory.
A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all.
These familiar components of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye towards gender, genre, and history. Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment – of powerful men seeking to become more powerful and one woman seeking justice for her child – but this version brings new context to an old story.
While crafting her contemporary adaptation, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.
8 Mar 2021
Paperback / softback
Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Ancient World, Classical texts, Poetry, Literary studies: classical, early & medieval, Sagas, Folklore, myths & legends