Beowulf

Only one manuscript of Beowulf has survived. It was in Sir Robert Cotton’s library. Cotton had been a student of that careful genius William Camden, who, through a lifetime’s work, formulated a different view of history: not the record of victory but the recollection of lost worlds and times. He and his fellow Antiquarians searched out fragments and ruins: Roman urns in the fields, Saxon burials under St Paul’s, a giant’s thigh-bone under a London cellar. They collected ancient manuscripts.

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Comments from John Miller, Barry Oakley, Davd Fitzpatrick, Claire Rhoden, and Robert Wills.

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Beowulf by Stephen Mitchell

by
March 2018, no. 399

The Old English Beowulf, the most important poem in English before Chaucer, was probably composed in the eighth century. The poem traces Beowulf’s three fights against the monster Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. The dragon is defeated, but Beowulf also dies in the battle. The poem ends with an elegiac lament ...

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