trans: Maria Dahvana Headley
Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf - and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world - there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements never before translated into English.
A man seeks to prove himself as a hero.
A monster seeks silence in his territory.
A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son.
A dragon ends it all.
These familiar components of the epic poem are seen with a novelist's eye toward gender, genre, and history.
Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment - of powerful men seeking to become more powerful and one woman seeking justice for her child - but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation; her Beowulf is one for the twenty-first century.