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Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf coming out this spring

tolkien beowulf

tolkien beowulfIn 1926, J.R.R. Tolkien, who would later go on to write The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, completed his own translation of the Old English poem Beowulf. Eighty-eight years later that work is going to be published for the first time.

HarperCollins announced today that they will be releasing the book on May 22nd. The book is edited by his son Christopher Tolkien, who explains, “The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book.”


Tolkien is considered one of the most important early scholars of the Old English poem that tells of a hero named Beowulf who comes to the aid of Hroðgar, the king of the Danes, and defeats the monster Grendel, followed by Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is eventually dies after killing a dragon. A 1936 lecture given by Tolkien, entitled Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, which argued that scholars should focus more attention on the antagonists in the story and that Beowulf should be treated as an important literary work.

The book will also contain Sellic Spell, a previously unpublished short story by Tolkien, that re-creates a folk-tale based on the Icelandic saga Hrólfs saga kraka.


For more details please see

See also: The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien released today


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