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Beowulf

A New Translation
Narrated by: Seamus Heaney
Length: 2 hrs and 15 mins
5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

Non-member price: $26.53

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Publisher's Summary

Seamus Heaney’s new translation of Beowulf is a work that is both true to the original poem and an expression of something fundamental to Heaney’s own creative gift.

One of the great classics of English literature, it tells the story of a hero who wins glory and learns wisdom and is then called upon to face a final test against the monstrous.

There are obvious parallels to be found in the history of the 20th century, and Heaney’s Beowulf cannot fail to be read partly in the light of his Northern Irish upbringing. But it also transcends such considerations, revealing psychological and spiritual truths that are both permanent and liberating.

©1999 Seamus Heaney (P)2000 Faber-Penguin

Critic Reviews

"Heaney's intelligence, fine ear and obvious love of the poem bring Beowulf alive as a melancholy masterpiece, a complex Christian-pagan lament for duty, glory, loss and transience. Heaney has done it (and us) a great service." (Claire Harman, Evening Standard)
"A wonderfully unfazed and unfussy riding round the great barrow of the text itself." (Paul Muldoon, Times Literary Supplement)
"The whole performance is wonderfully intermediate - poised between the Bible and folk wisdom, between the Light Ages and the Dark Ages - and at the same time pulverisingly actual in its language. He has made a masterpiece out of a masterpiece." (Andrew Motion, Financial Times)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for L D Wilkes
  • L D Wilkes
  • 19-11-2016

Beowulf

This is the version translated and read by Seamus Heaney. I've had the book for years but never ventured in. I will now after hearing of Beowulf's brave exploits and heroic qualities. Heaney read well and the translation loses nothing of the sense of ancient history and myth. A really great introduction to a wonderful take. I listened on my walk to work and was often moved to tears.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for E P
  • E P
  • 15-06-2019

Pure joy

This is wonderful, a pure joy. A recording to be cherished and played over and over again. Seamus Heaney’s voice stays with you long after the recording is over

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • P.
  • 20-09-2019

Buyer beware! Audible version heavily abridged!

Beowulf is an epic Old English poem of bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. The fight between Beowulf and Grendel is rightly famous, and soon followed by the fight with Grendel’s trollish mother. The last part of the poem tells of Beowulf many years later, aged and weary, and his final battle with a wyrm that threatens his homeland. Beowulf’s heroism in going to face his doom, battling against impossible odds is remarkable.
Seamus Heaney’s translation is good. Some parts are excellent, and the book of his translation is worth reading, along with other prose translations by Swanston and Tolkien.
But beware this audible recording. It is so heavily abridged that parts of the story make no sense. Unferth isn’t mentioned until the mere where Grendel’s mother lived, and Beowulf’s cutting off of Grendel’s head from his corpse is omitted. And other parts are chopped too.
I really think Audible should clearly state on the info for this recoding that it’s abridged, so that buyers can make informed choices!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for LW
  • LW
  • 03-07-2019

Origin story / the hero’s journey

Important to read even better to listen to, we’re lucky to have this text at all. Beautifully read by Seamus Heaney.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Elke M Huismans
  • Elke M Huismans
  • 05-12-2017

Beautiful. Honour without irony. Grave and just.

Better than reading it; lovely to listen to Heaney read it himself. Enjoyed it very much.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for EEL
  • EEL
  • 11-01-2017

Abridged and declaimed

This recording is significantly abridged from the printed text and also differs in small details within the lines that are represented.

While it may be heretical to say so, I'm not sure that Heaney is the best reader of his own text: he appears to have gone for a kind of epic declamatory style that becomes rather monotonous. Of course it's always interesting to hear the author reading their own work, but I'd be interested to hear it in a rendering by an accomplished actor.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for H. Cadbury
  • H. Cadbury
  • 02-05-2017

Beautiful poem read by one of the greatest poets

Such a pleasure to be able to hear the late, great Seamus Heaney read his version of this classic tale. Wonderful.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for L. J. W. Cych
  • L. J. W. Cych
  • 28-09-2019

Marvellous reading by Heaney

Enjoyed this immensely but be aware the book is abridged in parts in the adaptation.

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Profile Image for Emerson Mayes
  • Emerson Mayes
  • 16-08-2019

The only reading of Beowulf you need.

Read by the author of the best known translation. Beowulf is important. Listen to it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Dog in a Flat Cap
  • Dog in a Flat Cap
  • 13-03-2018

Seamus’ delivery a tad dry!

I bought the text version as well as the audio version, and found it most gripping to read but very dry to listen to, comparatively! It’s lovely to hear the poet himself read his translation aloud, but he reads it as if he’s doing a poetry reading, not performing an epic. And it needs to be performed. A distinct lack of drama or variation in his tone, just reciting lines. Come on Seamus, do better... !

1 of 2 people found this review helpful