The Illustrated Tale of Beowulf

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The two slay the dragon, but Beowulf is mortally wounded. After Beowulf dies, Wiglaf remains by his side, grief-stricken. When the rest of the men finally return, Wiglaf bitterly admonishes them, blaming their cowardice for Beowulf's death.

Afterward, Beowulf is ritually burned on a great pyre in Geatland while his people wail and mourn him, fearing that without him, the Geats are defenceless against attacks from surrounding tribes. Afterwards, a barrow, visible from the sea, is built in his memory Beowulf lines — The dating of Beowulf has attracted considerable scholarly attention and opinion differs as to whether it was first written in the 8th century or whether the composition of the poem was nearly contemporary with its eleventh century manuscript and whether a proto-version of the poem possibly a version of the Bear's Son Tale was orally transmitted before being transcribed in its present form.

Albert Lord felt strongly that the manuscript represents the transcription of a performance, though likely taken at more than one sitting. Tolkien believed that the poem retains too genuine a memory of Anglo-Saxon paganism to have been composed more than a few generations after the completion of the Christianisation of England around AD , [32] and Tolkien's conviction that the poem dates to the 8th century has been defended by Tom Shippey , Leonard Neidorf, Rafael J.

Pascual, and R. Fulk, among others. The claim to an early 11th-century date depends in part on scholars who argue that, rather than the transcription of a tale from the oral tradition by an earlier literate monk, Beowulf reflects an original interpretation of an earlier version of the story by the manuscript's two scribes. On the other hand, some scholars argue that linguistic, palaeographical , metrical , and onomastic considerations align to support a date of composition in the first half of the eighth century; [37] [38] [39] [40] in particular, the poem's apparent observation of etymological vowel-length distinctions in unstressed syllables described by Kaluza's law has been thought to demonstrate a date of composition prior to the earlier ninth century.

Hutcheson, for instance, does not believe Kaluza's Law can be used to date the poem, while claiming that "the weight of all the evidence Fulk presents in his book [b] tells strongly in favour of an eighth-century date. Beowulf survives in a single manuscript dated on palaeographical grounds to the late 10th or early 11th century. The poem is known only from a single manuscript, which is estimated to date from close to AD , in which it appears with other works. The Beowulf manuscript is known as the Nowell Codex, gaining its name from 16th-century scholar Laurence Nowell.

XV" because it was one of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton 's holdings in the Cotton library in the middle of the 17th century. Many private antiquarians and book collectors, such as Sir Robert Cotton, used their own library classification systems. XV" translates as: the 15th book from the left on shelf A the top shelf of the bookcase with the bust of Roman Emperor Vitellius standing on top of it, in Cotton's collection. The earliest extant reference to the first foliation of the Nowell Codex was made sometime between and by Franciscus Junius the younger.

Smith's catalogue appeared in , and Wanley's in In the letter to Wanley, Hickes responds to an apparent charge against Smith, made by Wanley, that Smith had failed to mention the Beowulf script when cataloguing Cotton MS.

Vitellius A. Hickes replies to Wanley "I can find nothing yet of Beowulph.

It suffered damage in the Cotton Library fire at Ashburnham House in Since then, parts of the manuscript have crumbled along with many of the letters. Rebinding efforts, though saving the manuscript from much degeneration, have nonetheless covered up other letters of the poem, causing further loss. Kevin Kiernan, in preparing his electronic edition of the manuscript, used fibre-optic backlighting and ultraviolet lighting to reveal letters in the manuscript lost from binding, erasure, or ink blotting.

Beowulfiana: Modern Adaptations of Beowulf | River Campus Libraries

The Beowulf manuscript was transcribed from an original by two scribes, one of whom wrote the prose at the beginning of the manuscript and the first lines before breaking off in mid sentence. The first scribe made a point of carefully regularizing the spelling of the original document by using the common West Saxon language and by avoiding any archaic or dialectical features. The second scribe, who wrote the remainder, with a difference in handwriting noticeable after line , seems to have written more vigorously and with less interest. As a result, the second scribe's script retains more archaic dialectic features, which allow modern scholars to ascribe the poem a cultural context.

In the way that it is currently bound, the Beowulf manuscript is followed by the Old English poem Judith. Judith was written by the same scribe that completed Beowulf as evidenced through similar writing style. Wormholes found in the last leaves of the Beowulf manuscript that are absent in the Judith manuscript suggest that at one point Beowulf ended the volume.

The rubbed appearance of some leaves also suggest that the manuscript stood on a shelf unbound, as is known to have been the case with other Old English manuscripts. The question of whether Beowulf was passed down through oral tradition prior to its present manuscript form has been the subject of much debate, and involves more than simply the issue of its composition.

Rather, given the implications of the theory of oral-formulaic composition and oral tradition, the question concerns how the poem is to be understood, and what sorts of interpretations are legitimate. Scholarly discussion about Beowulf in the context of the oral tradition was extremely active throughout the s and s.

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The debate might be framed starkly as follows: on the one hand, we can hypothesise a poem put together from various tales concerning the hero the Grendel episode, the Grendel's mother story, and the fire drake narrative. These fragments would have been told for many years in tradition, and learned by apprenticeship from one generation of illiterate poets to the next. The poem is composed orally and extemporaneously, and the archive of tradition on which it draws is oral, pagan, Germanic, heroic, and tribal.

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On the other hand, one might posit a poem which is composed by a literate scribe, who acquired literacy by way of learning Latin and absorbing Latinate culture and ways of thinking , probably a monk and therefore profoundly Christian in outlook. On this view, the pagan references would be a sort of decorative archaising. However, scholars such as D. Crowne have proposed the idea that the poem was passed down from reciter to reciter under the theory of oral-formulaic composition , which hypothesises that epic poems were at least to some extent improvised by whoever was reciting them, and only much later written down.

In his landmark work, The Singer of Tales , Albert Lord refers to the work of Francis Peabody Magoun and others, saying "the documentation is complete, thorough, and accurate. This exhaustive analysis is in itself sufficient to prove that Beowulf was composed orally. Examination of Beowulf and other Old English literature for evidence of oral-formulaic composition has met with mixed response. While "themes" inherited narrative subunits for representing familiar classes of event, such as the "arming the hero", [56] or the particularly well-studied "hero on the beach" theme [57] do exist across Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic works, some scholars conclude that Anglo-Saxon poetry is a mix of oral-formulaic and literate patterns, arguing that the poems both were composed on a word-by-word basis and followed larger formulae and patterns.

Larry Benson argued that the interpretation of Beowulf as an entirely formulaic work diminishes the ability of the reader to analyse the poem in a unified manner, and with due attention to the poet's creativity. Instead, he proposed that other pieces of Germanic literature contain "kernels of tradition" from which Beowulf borrows and expands upon. John Miles Foley wrote, referring to the Beowulf debate, [63] that while comparative work was both necessary and valid, it must be conducted with a view to the particularities of a given tradition; Foley argued with a view to developments of oral traditional theory that do not assume, or depend upon, ultimately unverifiable assumptions about composition, and instead delineate a more fluid continuum of traditionality and textuality.

Finally, in the view of Ursula Schaefer, the question of whether the poem was "oral" or "literate" becomes something of a red herring. Schaefer's concept of "vocality" offers neither a compromise nor a synthesis of the views which see the poem as on the one hand Germanic, pagan, and oral and on the other Latin-derived, Christian, and literate, but, as stated by Monika Otter: " He made one himself, and had another done by a professional copyist who knew no Anglo-Saxon.

Since that time, however, the manuscript has crumbled further, making these transcripts a prized witness to the text. While the recovery of at least letters can be attributed to them, their accuracy has been called into question, [c] and the extent to which the manuscript was actually more readable in Thorkelin's time is uncertain. A great number of translations and adaptations are available, in poetry and prose.

Andy Orchard, in A Critical Companion to Beowulf , lists 33 "representative" translations in his bibliography, [70] while the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies published Marijane Osborn's annotated list of over translations and adaptations in In , the historian Sharon Turner translated selected verses into modern English. Grundtvig reviewed this edition in and created the first complete verse translation in Danish in Wyatt published the ninth English translation.

In , Francis Barton Gummere 's full translation in "English imitative meter" was published, [73] and was used as the text of Gareth Hinds's graphic novel based on Beowulf in First published in , Frederick Klaeber 's Beowulf and The Fight at Finnsburg [75] which included the poem in Old English , an extensive glossary of Old English terms, and general background information became the "central source used by graduate students for the study of the poem and by scholars and teachers as the basis of their translations.

Seamus Heaney 's translation of the poem referred to by Howell Chickering and many others as "Heaneywulf" [77] was both praised and criticized. The US publication was commissioned by W. Fulk, of Indiana University , published the first facing-page edition and translation of the entire Nowell Codex manuscript in the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series in Following research in the King's College London Archives, Carl Kears proposed that John Porter's translation, published in by Bill Griffiths ' Pirate Press , was the first complete verse translation of the poem entirely accompanied by facing-page Old English.

Translating Beowulf is one of the subjects of the publication Beowulf at Kalamazoo , containing a section with 10 essays on translation, and a section with 22 reviews of Heaney's translation some of which compare Heaney's work with that of Anglo-Saxon scholar Roy Liuzza. Tolkien 's long-awaited translation edited by his son, Christopher was published in as Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary. Neither identified sources nor analogues for Beowulf can be definitively proven, but many conjectures have been made.

These are important in helping historians understand the Beowulf manuscript, as possible source-texts or influences would suggest time-frames of composition, geographic boundaries within which it could be composed, or range both spatial and temporal of influence i. There are Scandinavian sources, international folkloric sources, and Celtic sources. But Scandinavian works have continued to be studied as a possible source. Axel Olrik claimed that on the contrary, this saga was a reworking of Beowulf , and others followed suit.

However, Friedrich Panzer wrote a thesis in which both Beowulf and Grettis saga drew from a common folkloric source, and this encouraged even a detractor such as W. Lawrence to reposition his view, and entertain the possibility that certain elements in the saga such as the waterfall in place of the mere retained an older form. The viability of this connection has enjoyed enduring support, and was characterized as one of the few Scandinavian analogues to receive a general consensus of potential connection by Theodore M.

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Andersson Another candidate for an analogue or possible source is the story of Hrolf kraki and his servant, the legendary bear- shapeshifter Bodvar Bjarki. Hence a story about him and his followers may have developed as early as the 6th century. This tale type was later catalogued as international folktale type , now formally entitled "The Three Stolen Princesses" type in Hans Uther's catalogue, although the "Bear's Son" is still used in Beowulf criticism, if not so much in folkloristic circles. However, although this folkloristic approach was seen as a step in the right direction, "The Bear's Son" tale has later been regarded by many as not a close enough parallel to be a viable choice.

Jorgensen, looking for a more concise frame of reference, coined a "two-troll tradition" that covers both Beowulf and Grettis saga : "a Norse ' ecotype ' in which a hero enters a cave and kills two giants, usually of different sexes"; [94] which has emerged as a more attractive folk tale parallel, according to a assessment by Andersson.

Cook , and others even earlier, [e] [97] [87] [f] Swedish folklorist Carl Wilhelm von Sydow then made a strong argument for the case of parallelism in "The Hand and the Child", because the folktale type demonstrated a "monstrous arm" motif that corresponded with Beowulf wrenching off Grendel's arm. For no such correspondence could be perceived in the Bear's Son Tale or Grettis saga. Attempts to find classical or Late Latin influence or analogue in Beowulf are almost exclusively linked with Homer 's Odyssey or Virgil 's Aeneid.

In , Albert S.