A new, feminist translation ofBeowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novelThe Mere Wife
Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation ofBeowulf—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 that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.
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. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history—Beowulfhas always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, 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 ofBeowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.
Praise for The Mere Wife "The most surprising novel I've read this year. It's a bloody parody of suburban sanctimony and a feminist revision of macho heroism. In this brash appropriation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Headley swoops from comedy to tragedy, from the drama of brunch to the horrors of war." -Ron Charles, The Washington Post "Spiky, arresting . . . The novel plays ingeniously with its ancient source." -Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
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