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The Translations of Beowulf A Critical Bibliography   By: (1876-1963)

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[Transcriber's Note:

This text is intended for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (unicode/utf 8) version of the file. Characters that could not be fully displayed have been "unpacked" and shown in brackets:

[ a] [ e] [ i] [ o] [ u] [ y] [ æ] (vowels with macron or "long" mark) [´æ] (æ with accent) [gh] (yogh) [/þ] [/þ] (thorn with line, typically abbreviating "that") "oe" is written out as two letters, unmarked

Most of these letters are rare and occur only in the quotations from Old English.

Book sizes such as 8^o (printed with superscript "o") have been changed to 4to, 8vo, 12mo.

In a few selections, italics were used to indicate missing words or letters. These have been shown with {braces}. Elsewhere, italics are shown conventionally with lines . Asterisks before book titles are in the original.

Internal cross references are almost always expressed as "see supra" or "see infra" with page number. In an e text this may be interpreted as "scroll up" and "scroll down", respectively. When a footnote does not include a translator's name, it has been added in [[double brackets]].

The Tinker translation (final chapter in the main text) is the author's own.]








A Portion of a Thesis Presented to the Philosophical Faculty of Yale University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Originally Published 1903


The following pages are designed to give a historical and critical account of all that has been done in the way of translating Beowulf from the earliest attempts of Sharon Turner in 1805 down to the present time. As a corollary to this, it presents a history of the text of the poem to the time of the publication of Grein's Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Poesie in 1859; for until the publication of this work every editor of the poem was also its translator.

It is hoped that the essay may prove useful as a contribution to bibliography, and serve as a convenient reference book for those in search of information regarding the value of texts and translations of Beowulf .

The method of treating the various books is, in general, the same. I have tried to give in each case an accurate bibliographical description of the volume, a notion of the value of the text used in making it, &c. But the emphasis given to these topics has necessarily varied from time to time. In discussing literal translations, for example, much attention has been paid to the value of the text, while little or nothing is said of the value of the rendering as literature. On the other hand, in the case of a book which is literary in aim, the attention paid to the critical value of the book is comparatively small. At certain periods in the history of the poem, the chief value of a translation is its utility as a part of the critical apparatus for the interpretation of the poem; at other periods, a translation lays claim to our attention chiefly as imparting the literary features of the original.

In speaking of the translations which we may call literary, I have naturally paid most attention to the English versions, and this for several reasons. In the first place, Beowulf is an English poem; secondly, the number, variety, and importance of the English translations warrant this emphasis; thirdly, the present writer is unable to discuss in detail the literary and metrical value of translations in foreign tongues. The account given of German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, French, and Italian versions is, therefore, of a more strictly bibliographical nature; but, whenever possible, some notion has been given of the general critical opinion with regard to them.

An asterisk is placed before the titles of books which the present writer has not seen... Continue reading book >>

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