From My List of Classics: Beowulf
I chose to re-read this classic tale because of romantic memories from high school. I recall watching the boys in our literature class acting out the various scenes with pretend swords. They appeared so gallant, so brave and manly. I’m sure I did a lot of sighing.
Fifty years later the romance is gone. What was I thinking? What was I remembering? Now, from my aged vantage point, it appears the story resembles a violent action movie. Blood, gore, and guts are found on nearly every page of Beowulf. I wasn’t happy with my decision to read this classic.
I told these things to my favorite librarian. She suggested I give it a try os an audiobook. She told me that, as I listened to this epic poem, to imagine I’m sitting by an ancient evening fire. A wandering storyteller is sharing the tale with us.
It worked. I closed my eyes and listened. I became lost in the storyteller’s voice and absorbed in the story. My imagination carried me back centuries to the pre-electronic age. I went back to a time when hearing an amazing story told by the bards was the ultimate in entertainment.
The story is features the life of a great hero. It focuses on the kingdom of King Hrothgar in Denmark. The Danes have been plagued by an evil demon known as Grendel. Grendel has been killing the Danes and terrorizing them night after night.
A mighty warrior, Beowulf, travels to Denmark with his band of men and offers to help King Hrothgar. Beowulf fights Grendel unarmed and demolishes him. He his hailed as a great hero, but its not over yet. Grindel’s evil mother. The story goes on with more violence and death.
This is not my kind of story. The only enjoyment I had was thinking about how long this tale has lasted. It has been around since somewhere between the eighth ad eleventh centuries. I respect the longevity of the ancient tale. I’m sure it’s the kind of story that is greatly admired by hordes of people. Just not me.
The librarian was right – Beowulf is best read by audiobook. This audio was narrated by Crawford Logan. His voice was perfect for this very old classic.