Search This Blog

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Beowulf adaptations

I found this article about the new run of Beowulf movies at Brandywine Books. One version features Angelina Joli as Grendel's mother. Hmmm.

I love Beowulf not for the story but for the language, for wergild, for the merging of pagan and Christian theology, for the embedded cultural information, for the kennings.

Michael Crichton used much from the Beowulf story in Eaters of the Dead, a very short novel which was the source of the movie The 13th Warrior with Antonio Banderas. Not a huge success, but I, of course, had to see the movie to see how it followed the book and, years earlier, had to read the book to see the connection to the epic poem.

Grendel by John Gardner is also very short, and I loved it! The story told from Grendel's viewpoint is both funny and sad. Using the same style and rhythm as the original, Grendel's version is definitely worth a read even for those who hated Beowulf. Although Gardner used prose, notice the similarity to the original: "Such are the tiresome memories of a shadow-shooter, earth-rim-roamer, walker of the world's weird wall."

I also liked Larry Niven's Legacy of Heorot and see that there is a sequel, Beowulf's Children. Need to re-read the first and look for the second.

There are even Beowulf comic books, operas, and children's books. Here is a link to various re-tellings in several genres.

And this is one I'd really like to read:

Bryher. Beowulf. New York: Pantheon Books Inc., 1956.[Beowulf is a fairly obscure Modernist novel by Bryher, the pen name of Annie Winifred Ellerman (1894-1983). The story is set during the London Blitz of World War II, and the characters are residents of a London neighborhood that is under constant threat of German bombardment; their "mascot" is a plaster bulldog named Beowulf. Symbolically, the neighbors represent the denizens of Heorot, while the German bombers--striking at night with invincible force and wreaking massive destruction--stand for Grendel.]

1 comment:

  1. The Legacy of Heorot was wonderfu... and I think I liked Beowulf's Children better when I read it last year. Can't remember it completely, though.

    Must admit I'm surprised that the metaphor available from the original story isn't used more.