A Companion to Beowulf
by Ruth Johnston Staver
July 2005, 248pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-33224-1
$76, £59, 67€, A105
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-0-313-02729-1
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Overviews the background, plot, themes, and language of Beowulf and discusses the poem’s afterlife in contemporary popular culture.

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.


"A quick reference to Beowulf and its cultural background, this book offers a clear discussion intended to convey factual information rather than engage in cultural controversy. In addition to the expected material on Beowulf's arrival, the three battles, and his death, Staver (an independent scholar) includes chapters on the literary techniques in the poem, religion, Anglo Saxon culture, and modern adaptations of Beowolf....Nonspecialists and teachers who need a quick reference to various parts of Beowulf will appreciate this book....Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers."—Choice, January 1, 2006

"[O]ffers the high school student or interested lay reader a well-balanced introduction to ^IBeowulf^I..."—Medium Aevum, January 1, 2006

"[W]ell organised, properly refereed, doing what it does very well, and pointing students on to full-scale scholarly material ..."—English, July 1, 2006

"A 'must' for any in-depth literary collection."—Library Bookwatch, December 1, 2005
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