Anglo-Saxonists widely acknowledge their dependence upon Tolkien for the ground broken by his 1936 essay, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics." Without Tolkien's intercession, Beowulf may never have come to be treated as the work of art it is. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, due in part to the Peter Jackson film adaptations and in part to the publication of Michael D. Drout's variorum edition of Tolkien's Beowulf and the Critics, both popular and scholarly audiences have come to understand the role that Old English literature, particularly the Beowulf poem, plays in Tolkien's literary worldview.She edited the three volumes of has raged among scholars for many years, and it shows no sign of abating. ." Simon Keynes, Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Cambridge “Damico makes an elegant and thought-provoking case for as a political allegory of late Anglo-Saxon England. (Nota: Every one of these comments should probably be equivocated six ways from Sunday, but I'm going to leave them simple.Far away in Geatland (which may be in southern Sweden) a young hero named Beowulf hears of Hrothgar's monster and resolves to go and kill it (Hrothgar once helped his father). But when I learned that it was a prose translation he completed in 1926, I became somewhat more cautious in my expectations. The translation is stilted and unidiomatic at its best—and at its worst it is incomprehensible.Bruce Mitchell comments that "The Greenfield and Robinson Bibliography records seventy items on 'Literary Interpretations' of Beowulf before J. Seamus Heaney credits Tolkien with an "epoch-making paper" that takes "for granted the poem's integrity and distinction as a work of art" wherein Tolkien "proceeded to show in what this integrity and distinction inhered"--a major departure from the litany of ostensibly non-literary scholarly treatments of the poem that precede his discussion of Tolkien ("Introduction" xi).Few Anglo-Saxonists would quibble with Heaney's characterization of Tolkien's significance, even though much has been said concerning Heaney's faithfulness to the original poem.
But many scholars think that the poem itself was written significantly earlier than the manuscript: some believe it was written around 750, others in the 800s or 900s. At least a few of the events mentioned in appear to be historical, and if so, they occured around the year 515, so the poem could be seen as being set in this time period or a more general, mythical "heroic age." What is the story in the poem (as distinct from the story in the film)?
(1) Tolkien's influence is also felt in literary treatments of the poem that may not always be as welcomed by Anglo-Saxonists as they are by contemporary readers nursed on Tolkien's fantastic treatments of the poem's narrative elements.
Both scholars and poets assert the centrality of Tolkien's role in Beowulf criticism. Tolkien's lecture and two-hundred-and-fifty between its publication and the end of 1972" (209).
(Counting this one, I own nine different editions of the poem.) Tolkien, most famous for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was also a noted scholar of Old English, so an edition of the famous Anglo-Saxon poem by him carries some rather high expectations. R., Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2014, hardcover, .17* [Discuss this post] I’ve finally obtained and read a copy, and I must, sadly, state that this is a book that no one should buy.
Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf was to be published, edited by his son Christopher, I was excited.