Tolkien News

90 Years Later, Tolkien’s ‘Beowulf’ Translation Sees Publication

Photo: HarperCollins

Translated in 1926 but never before considered for publication, Tolkien’s version of the epic Old English poem, edited by his son Christopher, will finally be published on May 22 of this year as Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, by HarperCollins in the UK and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US.

In addition to Tolkien’s translation, the publication will also include a commentary on the poem, taken from a selection of lectures Tolkien gave at Oxford in the 1930s.

“From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision,” Christopher Tolkien said. “It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.”

Tolkien’s previously unpublished “Sellic Spell” has also found its way into the upcoming release; this is a short story “suggesting what might have been the form and style of an Old English folk-tale of Beowulf, in which there was no association with the “historical legends” of the Northern kingdoms.’”

Many of the late Tolkien’s works have been published since his death in 1973; most recently, The Fall of Arthur (2013), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), and The Children of Húrin (2007).

Will you be purchasing a copy on May 22nd? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. I am SO EXCITED for the Beowulf translation!! Spring just gets better and better this year!

  2. I’m already looking to see if I can pre-order it somewhere. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Tolkien’s Beowulf | Vikings, Books, etc.

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  6. This is indeed great news 🙂 I just hope that the “commentaries” are not the same essays found in “The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays” … fingers crossed!