This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!
2. Beowulf from the Cotton MS Vitellius A. xv (c. 975-1010 AD)
Dates: 5/18/20 – 7/16/20 (59 days)
Plot: An epic poem telling the tale of Beowulf who slays the monster Grendel (and also a dragon).
Experience Before Reading: None.
Takeaway: I kept thinking about how this story is over 1000 years old and yet, so modern? The hero’s journey is a beloved story that has been around much longer than we have. To think that this is one of the first (that we know of) is pretty wild to wrap your head around.
Personally, I prefer the historic context and the impact of this work to the actual poem. The poem itself is hard to understand. You can get a sense of what is happening, but get lost in the details. You might have noticed the actual poem took me 59 days to read – practically a hero’s journey worth just to get through. It’s short too, so I don’t really have an excuse.
Without Beowulf, it’s unlikely works like The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones would have been made. The impact of this work is something to be admired. The fact that the story is one we all inherently know shows how it’s radiated into our cultural zeitgeist.
Also, I mentioned yesterday that I was a fan of Scandinavia in general. Bonus points from me.
Would I Recommend It?: To those who like epics.
Dates: 3/9/20 (2 hours)
Experience Before Reading: I read this book when I was a Junior in high school and was actually quite fond of it. I am a massive Tolkien fan, and The Hobbit is largely based off of Beowulf.
Takeaway: The main takeaway from this story is that it’s better to go through life and to die young with courage, than to die cowardly at an old age. Beowulf is the quintessential warrior that we read about in nearly every adventure book. It shows that even at the time Beowulf was written (somewhere between the 8th and 11th century) honor, loyalty, and courage were admirable traits.
Would I Recommend It?: If you enjoy The Iliad and The Odyssey, you will like this work. Beowulf is an epic poem orated in ancient Anglo-Saxon
Look at this video of it being spoken it’s totally crazy! So it has the same feel as those works.