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Beowulf (2020, MCD x FSG Originals) 5 stars

Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—and fifty years after the translation that …

How does one review a millenium-old poem?

No rating

I guess in two halves. This translation is 97% wonderful, with the other 3% being occasional grating patches. It is the most alive and readable version I've read, and I think the stylistic choices Headley made all make sense, from the repeated exhortations of "bro" to the ways she works to treat the women of the story--especially Grendel's mother, but not only her--better than other translations I've read. Using the techniques of heavy alliteration and kenning compounds with all modern language really brings home how driving they can be, and the originals must have been when their vocabulary was current. Sometimes "bro" and "daddy" felt over-repeated, and then started to grate, but that really is an occasional glitch in a wonderful translation (and I wonder if I'd even have felt that if I'd listened to the poem rather than reading it, or read it more slowly instead of in …