“Very rarely can you say a new edition of a story as old as BEOWULF has truly done something revolutionary, but I would argue that Headley achieves that in her new translation. In some senses, Headley modernizes the language, as all good translations do, but more than that, she imitates modern spoken word poetry. This brings Beowulf, a poem originally invented to be performed aloud, back into the oral tradition. It also allows the poem to lean further into the poetic form of the original epic, as alliteration and epithets flow more naturally in spoken poetry than they do in the written word. This is Beowulf as it hasn't been seen in thousands of years, and you won't want to miss out on it. I know it has me reassessing all the ways I think of epic poems.”
Katherine, Trident Booksellers and Cafe
"Narrator JD Jackson addresses his listener as "bro" in this decidedly contemporary retelling of the classic saga...His brilliant performance captures all the artistry, wit, and immediacy of this fresh translation, and breathes new life into what for most has been a literary fossil." -- AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner
A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novel The Mere Wife
Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—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—Beowulf has 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 of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.
A Macmillan Audio production from MCD x FSG Originals
"Brash and belligerent, lunatic and envigorating, with passages of sublime poetry punctuated by obscenities and social-media shorthand." --Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker
"The author of the crazy-cool Beowulf-inspired novel The Mere Wife tackles the Old English epic poem with a fierce new feminist translation that radically recontextualizes the tale."--Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today