Sunday, November 18, 2007

About Beowulf

The other day we were sitting around watching football, and a trailer for the new movie about Beowulf came on.
"Beowulf!" I cried. "WHY would they make a movie nowadays about BEOWULF? Who besides me (and other English majors) have had to read Beowulf!?"
"I did," said Tony.
"Me too," said Angela. "Mrs. Bloom made us. Some people had to read that Dante thing instead, though."
Mrs. Bloom was their high school English teacher, and a long-time friend of mine in book club. I should have known a careful English teacher would have assigned this (especially with the high standards of academics in their high school).
Okay, I stood corrected about my own children having read Beowulf. And I let Mrs. Bloom know her teaching had not been forgotten at our last book meeting. It was her opinion that having an excellent monster such as Grendel was the impetus for a Hollywood production of such an epic poem.
After reading about Angelina Jolie's part in the movie, I kind of think this was the reason, but I'm jaded.
Just in case you've never read Beowulf, hop over to Beowulf the Hypertext where you can view both the Old English version:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
And the translation:

LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!

Beowulf might be a little heavy for Sunday!

Well, how about you? Will you be heading out to see a virtually nude Angelina Jolie?

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