Anglo-Saxon, Beowulf, Epic poem, Greene Hamlet Blog, Grendel, Grendel's Cave Halloween Challenge, Hero, Medieval, monsters, Seamus Heaney, Wealtheow
Online game site Grendel’s Cave has issued a Halloween Challenge. If you are lucky enough to slay the monster (who is, of course, Grendel of Beowulf fame) by midnight on Halloween, your thane character will receive numerous honors including entry into the prestigious Hall of Fame. See “Notification to Players” for more details. The game site is as always free and loads of good fun. Luck to all who choose to enter!
Once you’ve been sucked into the game world (and you will), you might want to revisit the epic poem for yourself. Fortunately, the Greene Hamlet blog has the late, great Seamus Heaney reading his well-loved translation on the BBC. While you are over there, check out Greene’s Beowulf Pages. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Anglo-Saxon masterpiece in one place.
Of course, you might like to have a copy of the book to follow along with while you listen, so here’s the Amazon link. But do check your library first and the used textbook sites as well, as many colleges use Heaney’s version in their courses. It is a splendid translation!
And if that’s not to your taste, how about a graphic novel instead? Both Petrucha and Hinds have versions out that are true to the narrative with very beautiful artwork.
You could also try Stories of Beowulf Told to Children, which is available free of charge at The Baldwin Project. Some of my favorite Beowulf artwork is from this 1908 version. Here is “Beowulf and the Dragon” and “The Ogre, Grendel” both done by artist J.R. Skelton.
I am also fond of Lynd Ward’s artwork from another 1939 children’s retelling. It does not seem to be available for browsing online.
But here is his work-up of the hero and the dragon from a pinterest board.
And if you don’t want to be seen reading children’s books, there’s always Beowulf for Beginners hosted by the University of Aberdeen. They have some very useful links to pronunciations in case you skipped Heaney’s audio.
And once you settle on your main text, you might want to consider reading narratives from the POV of other characters. John Gardner’s Grendel is a very enjoyable look at things from the monster’s perspective, and Ashley Crownover’s Wealthreow comes at the saga through the Queen of the Danes.
I think that’s plenty for you to digest for now, and certainly enough to get you hooked on the hero tale. I hope to see your own creative work inspired by the poem soon. Post your goodies below. And be sure to check out my piece on another epic poem, Dante’s Inferno.