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Cover for Beowulf


A Likeness

Raymond Oler, IV, Marijane Osborn, Fred C. Robinson (Contributions by), Randolph Swearer


List Price: 70.00*
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Beowulf, the primary epic of the English language, is a powerful heroic poem eloquently expressive of the Anglo-Saxon culture that produced it. In this beautiful book a designer, a poet, and a specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature recreate Beowulf for a modern audience. Interweaving evocative images, a new interpretation in verse, and a running commentary that helps clarify the action and setting of the poem as well as the imagery, the book brings new life to this ancient masterpiece. 
Randolph Swearer’s oblique and allusive images create an archaic, mysterious atmosphere by depicting in forms and shadows the world of Germanic antiquity—Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon art, artifacts, and scenery. At the same time, Raymond Oliver gives Beowulf a world in which to live, filling in the cultural gaps not with a thick matrix of footnotes but with poetry itself. Unlike many translations of Beowulf in existence, Oliver’s retelling of the epic uses modern verse forms for poetic effect and includes a wealth of historically authentic descriptions, characterizations, and explanations necessary for modern readers. Marijane Osborn completes the process of restoring context to the poem by supplying a commentary to clarify the historical and geographical dimensions of the story as well as the imagery that accompanies it. All three work together to bring a likeness of an old and elusive tale to today’s reader.
“The book’s design and the commentary on it provide a unique visual complement to Oliver’s poem… A strange and moving story, compellingly told and seriously interesting to any serious reader of books.”—Fred C. Robinson, from the Introduction

Yale University Press, 9780300048766, 168pp.

Publication Date: October 24, 1990

About the Author

Randolph Swearer is a designer and is currently area director for visual communication in the art department at the University of Texas, Austin. Raymond Oliver is a poet and medieval scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Marijane Osborn is a specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature at the University of California, Davis. Fred C. Robinson is Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English at Yale University.