Perhaps the most important work written in Old English, Beowulf grew out of a culture very different from ours, and yet its story of war, violence, and heroism remains relevant to modern readers. Accessible to high school students, general readers, and undergraduates, this companion overviews the poem and its legacy. The initial chapters review the plot of Beowulf, while later chapters discuss its style and language, its cultural and historical contexts, and its afterlife in contemporary popular culture.
The first part of the book provides information of interest to a wide range of readers, while the second covers more specialized topics. Thus the initial chapters review the merits of different translations and offer a detailed plot summary, while later chapters discuss the poem’s language and style, its treatment of religion, its relation to Anglo-Saxon culture, and its legacy in popular culture. One of the greatest Beowulf scholars was J.R.R. Tolkien, and the book gives special attention to his use of the poem in his own fiction. High school students, undergraduates, and general readers will find this book a valuable guide to one of the most challenging yet enduring works of English literature.