19 March 2014

Tolkien's Beowulf (and commentary) finally to be published!

Since my first reading of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, I have not been able to read Tolkien enough. After reading my way through Middle-earth, I found myself reading his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, long one of my favorites among the Arthurian Legends. After this I read The Silmarilion before read his collected letters.

This past summer I was elated to read his unfinished poem, The Fall of Arthur, which I found excellent because of the text itself, but especially because of Tolkien's ability to compose a poem in modern English set to the meter used in the epic Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf. It was simply masterful and felt as if I were hearing an ancient bard telling his tales in the great hall around the fire.

For years I have references to Tolkien's own translation of Beowulf and his commentaries on the poem, but I have not successfully found them. I learned today that both Tolkien's translation and his commentary (specifically his 1936 lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics") will be published on May 22, 2014 and I am very excited to read it! I first read Beowulf in high school - and enjoyed it very much - and have been meaning to read it again; soon I will have a very good reason to do so.

The new book will also include Tolkien's short story, "Sellic Spell," based on an Icelandic saga about which I know nothing.

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