J.R.R. Tolkien

Tom Shippey Discusses JRR Tolkien’s Beowulf Translation In Three Video Lectures

JRR Tolkien began to write a tentative prose edition of the Medieval epic poem, Beowulf, while teaching at the University of Leeds in the early 1920s. He toyed with his modern translation of the Old English verses for several years before putting the work to one side, rarely referencing it again. In 2014 Tolkien’s son and posthumous publisher, Christoper, released a compilation of his father’s writing on the subject, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, to a mixed reaction from critics and readers alike. While some scholars admired the professor’s straightforward interpretation of the 10th century Anglo-Saxon text, others felt that the resultant story lost too much of the original’s alliterative timbre (though few denied JRR’s considerable expertise in the matter, evident from the number of lectures featured in the recent volume). Tom Shippey, the well-known author on all things Tolkien, has presented three video-streaming lectures on the subject of Beowulf which are well worth watching. Be warned though, these presentations are for those with a dedicated interest in the history of Middle-earth and Old English scholarship. Recorded by Signum University from live sessions, the quality is less than perfect but still watchable.


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