Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

Rating: 3.5

beowulf.jpg Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

 Translator: Seamus Heaney
 Reader: George Guidall

 Short Review: Heaney’s excellent translation read well, though not perfectly, by Guidall.

 Long Review: You know already whether or not you want to listed to Beowulf as an audiobook. There are those of us who perk right up at the thought of listening to epic poetry read aloud, and those who go out of their way to avoid such theatrics. I, obviously, am in the former camp. I can think of nothing better to listen to than epic poetry. Frankly. I think the existence of epic poetry is one of the only arguments proving our species is worth keeping around. Beowulf matters, and I make sure to read it every few years. I’ve read multiple translations, and listened to parts of it recited by a number of poets and translators and actors. I love the epic, and I think Heaney’s translation is masterful.

I was sad to find that Guidall’s narration fell so flat for me. Guidall is a well-respected audio book narrator, and I expected a bit more from him. His narration is clear enough and well-paced, and his diction is good. But the words don’t sizzle in his mouth, and they should. He doesn’t declaim as a bard would. I am, perhaps, very hard to please in this particular case, but I know I’d be happier if Derek Jacobi, Philip Pullman, or Campbell Scott had read it. Still and all, it’s not bad. It’s just not as great as it should be.



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