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The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf marks the beginning of the English literature. Eighth-century in origin, composed to be recited aloud, it told its Anglo-Saxon listeners a story of their Scandinavian ancestors. It celebrates the hero Beowulf, who goes to Denmark and slays the monster Grendel and Grendel's mother. He later becomes the king of Geatland and in old age meets death in combat with a dragon. Blending history with legend and richly allusive in its narrative, Beowulf portrays an epic conflict of good and evil, generosity and vengeance, life and death. In this new edition for the Penguin English Poets series, the Old English verse text is faced by a page on which almost every word is glossed. Michael Alexander provides full critical appratus including notes, a map and an illuminating introduction to the poem and its provenance.
The classic tale of monster-hunting, dragon-fighting Beowulf, here in its original Old English
Beowulf is the greatest surviving work of literature in Old English, unparalleled in its epic grandeur and scope. It tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and of his battles, first with the monster Grendel, who has laid waste to the great hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, then with Grendel's avenging mother, and finally with a dragon that threatens to devastate his homeland. Through its blend of myth and history, Beowulf vividly evokes a twilight world in which men and supernatural forces live side by side, and celebrates the endurance of the human spirit in a transient world.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Michael Alexander edits the latest edition of this heroic Anglo-Saxon narrative poem, believed to have been written 1,250 years ago and rich in history and legend, to great acclaim.