J.R.R. Tolkien's Beowulf Translation Will Be Published for the First Time in May

Beowulf a translation and commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien


J.R.R. Tolkien's never before published translation of Beowulf will be published by HarperCollins in the U.K and by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the U.S. The Guardian reports that after 90 years the translation of the epic 11th century poem will finally be published. Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien, said his father never considered publishing the translation. Christopher says that the translation has his father's creative flair and delves into the "imagined past of the heroes." The dragon parts at the end apparently got special attention from Tolkien, so that's bound to spice up this translation a bit. Certainly we'll be imagining Smaug as we read those parts.

Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English. The original manuscript is kept at the British Library. Although there have been many retellings and translations of the tale, a Tolkien version is something really special that we cannot wait to get our hands on. We wonder how long it will take before this translation makes its way into school reading lists?

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary will be published on May 22, 2014. The book is edited by Christopher Tolkien, and includes a Tolkien tale called "Sellic Spell" and the text of the lectures Tolkien gave at Oxford University about Beowulf in the 1930s.

Photo: HarperCollns/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Posted on March 20, 2014

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