Beowulf Stephen Mitchell

Publication date:
21 Nov 2017
Yale University Press
264 pages: 210 x 140mm
2 b-w illus.

If the definition of a superhero is “someone who uses his special powers to fight evil,” then Beowulf is our first English superhero story, and arguably our best. It features not one, not two, but three monsters. It is also a deeply pious poem, so bold in its reverence for a virtuous pagan past that it teeters on the edge of heresy. From beginning to end, we feel we are in the hands of a master story-teller.
Stephen Mitchell’s marvelously clear and vivid rendering re-creates the robust masculine music of the original. It both hews closely to the Old English and captures its wild energy and vitality, not just as a deep “work of literature” but also as a rousing entertainment that can still stir our feelings and rivet our attention today, after more than a thousand years. This new translation—spare, sinuous, vigorous in its narration, and translucent in its poetry—makes a masterpiece accessible to everyone.

Stephen Mitchell’smany books include Tao Te Ching, which has sold over a million copies, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, Gilgamesh, and The Iliad.

“Eloquent . . . conveys a true sense of the original.”—Harold Bloom

“This is a readable Beowulf—elegantly wrought, highly accurate, and fully annotated. Mitchell’s verse has a pleasant cumulative effect.”—Eric Weiskott, Boston College