The poem Beowulf marks the begginning of English literature. Eighth century in origin and composed to be recited aloud, it told its Anglo Saxon listeners a tale about their Scandinavian ancestors, celebrating the life of the hero Beowulf. In rich and compelling poetry, it recounts his battles first with the monster Grendel, the bane of the realm of the Danish king Hrothgar, then with Grendel’s avenging mother, and his last, fatal fight against a dragon that threatens Beowulf’s homeland. Richly allusive in its narrative, Beowulf is an evocative blend of history and Legend, portraying an epic conflict of good and evil, generosity and vengeance, life and death.
In this innovative edition, the Old English verse text of Beowulf is faced by a page on which almost every word is glossed, giving readers direct access to the original of this complex and rewarding work. This edition also includes notes, a map, a glossary of proper names and a wonderfully illuminating introduction to the poem and its world.