Archive for old english

Corrections to your review of Beowulf

Posted in Emails, Rants with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by xugro

Corrections to Your Preview of “Beowulf” in Game Informer 172 (Aug 2007), pp. 68-69

Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to inform you that there is a glaring error in your preview of the game “Beowulf” on pp. 68-69 of GI 172. Where the text on p. 68 (first paragraph) reads “That’s when you turn to the middle-english epic poem Beowulf“, it should read, “That’s when you turn to the Old English epic poem Beowulf.”
Beowulf was written in Old English, which is quite different from the much more familiar Middle English in which Chaucer wrote. To contrast the two, I offer you a few of the opening lines of Beowulf (composed mid-7th to
late 10th-century) and the first lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (14th century).

Oft Scylde Scefing seaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodo-setla ofteah;
egsode Eorle, syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad:
weox under wolcnum, weorð-myndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymb-sittendra
ofer hron-rade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan: þæt wæs god cyning!

[There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,

a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.

This terror of the hall-troops had come far.A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.]
Translated by Seamus Heaney (New York: Norton, 2000), p.3.
Here are the opening lines of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, with interlineal translation, taking from Harvard’s website
(http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/teachslf/gp-par.htm):
1 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
[ When April with its sweet-smelling showers]
2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
[Has pierced the drought of March to the root,]
3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour
[And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid]
4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
[By which power the flower is created;]

As you will note, the Middle English is much closer to Present-Day English and presents much less difficulties than Old English. Middle English is traditionally said to begin after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 and continues up to the 16th century, while Old English covers roughly 700 years from the mid-fifth to mid-twelfth centuries. I appreciate your rectifying this matter, as it is of supreme importance for understanding Beowulf as a literary work, game, and film. In the end, is there no time when we shouldn’t turn to the Old English epic, Beowulf ?
Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Xugro

[My corrections were never published. Sigh.]

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