We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In a way it's surprising that even one European Dark Ages manuscript survived, but in another way it's surprising that we don't have more of the doubtless many lost Beowulfs. (When you think about it, it's a miracle that we even have Boswell's letters from the 1700s. Some were found being used as wrapping paper in Marseilles. Long story.)
Prof. Sutherland inspired Mrs. BD to dig into this intricately-constructed story, but she elected to do it with Seamus Heaney's wonderful translation from the Anglo-Saxon instead of with the original.
The illustrated edition helps bring the times to life, but it comes in a plain version too. We like Seamus very much.
The audio version, with Mr. Heaney reading it with his glorious Irish brogue, is wonderful. Since the poem was originally heard out loud, not read off the page, I prefer that version to reading it. I highly recommend borrowing it from the library, if you don't care to buy it outright.
I used to read it aloud - believe it or not. I agree with you all who say it should be heard. I am blessed with a low, kind of sultry voice, and I speak articulately. (People have asked me to be a reader, in fact.) Anyway, because 'Beowulf' is difficult, and much of what I taught was, I found myself reading aloud all the time. When I tried to stop and turn over the work to the students, they'd revolt.
What I like about that story is that eighteen-year-olds still loved to be read to. How cool is that? :)
When I first taught 'Beowulf', it was in the original translation with the stunningly beautiful alliterative language. In my humble opinion, that version should be the one to read. Over the years as we adopted new textbooks, 'Beowulf' was parsed down from 40 pages (appx.) to ten. Gone was the beautiful language. Talk about dumbing down education. What a fine piece of work it *was*.
When reading Seamus' version you have to use an Ulster accent - think Ian Paisley declaiming and the alliterations and rhymes come through.
I must admit I also enjoyed the recent movie version, and wondered what the original bard would have made of Angelina Jolie....