Tolkien’s Translation of Beowulf Just Released


Yesterday was the release day for J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1926 translation of Beowulf.

Tolkien is of course famous for writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series and for creating the setting of those stories known as Middle-earth.

Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, has taken to the task of editing and releasing his father’s unpublished works, and now Tolkien’s version of Beowulf can be added to that list.

As the description of the book states, Tolkien completed the translation in 1926 before going to Oxford as professor of Anglo-Saxon. The book also includes commentary on the text of the poem that Tolkien wrote as a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s.

Beowulf is a classic man versus monsters story that was originally written in Old English sometime between the 8th and 11th century. The epic poem consists of 3182 alliterative long lines, and is commonly considered one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature. The original copy is located in the British Library.

Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available in hardcover and in ebook form from all the major retailers. Amazon has the best price, of course, but it’s still pricey. The Kindle Edition is $14.99, and the hardcover is about $2 more.


2 Responses to “Tolkien’s Translation of Beowulf Just Released”

  1. 1926? Doesn’t that mean it is in the public domain?

    • Unpublished works don’t become public domain until 70 years after the author dies. Even if it did fall under public domain they’d find some way to screw us out of it. It’s kind of ridiculous when you think about it. Tolkien’s son will probably make far more money off of his father’s work than Tolkien even made in his entire lifetime. That’s something that drives me nuts about copyright and the whole writing industry. No one should be allowed to make more money from a book than the original author. In this case his son edited this book, so that’s something. I can’t stand people profiting off of other people’s books when they had nothing to do with them to begin with. An author can be dead for over half a century, and their family members and publishers can still continue to profit off of something they had absolutely no part in creating.