Alienum phaedrum torquatos nec eu, vis detraxit periculis ex, nihil expetendis in mei. Mei an pericula euripidis, hinc partem.

Teaching Beowulf: From Reception History Back to Form and Intention     

by Gregory Roper

I attended graduate school in the wild and crazy 1980s, when the God of Theory overthrew all of the other gods on literary Olympus, conquering and eating its fathers, mothers, and everything else in sight. But because I was so fortunate to have attended the University of Dallas before graduate school,1 I remain to this day largely a formalist, New Critical reader of texts.2 While I acknowledge the shortcomings in the Allen Tate/Cleanth Brooks/Robert Penn Warren understanding of a poem’s ontology, and I strongly question the Intentional Fallacy, having had those views modified by my reading Wayne Booth3, I really do still think that the point of reading literature is to experience a crafted whole, a small cosmos in which an author puts together all of its elements in a coherent, unified fashion, allowing us to see in our own, messy, unformed lives the wholes of things, the truth of things, more clearly and deeply.   

So my primary purpose when I teach any text—my chosen case today of Beowulf skirts the tension between a special, nigh-unrepeatable case and a randomly-chosen example to suggest how we might teach any text—I want my students to read the text first and foremost as an artistic whole, a coherent vision. I want them to see how the author’s formal choices create the meanings of the text and are how he conveys those meanings to us. 

Still, what sanity that did remain after those 1980s wild times, what residue was left in the bottle after draining off all the toxic deconstructive solvent, what was positive was a closer alliance between formal reading and historical reading: texts, in all of their formal complexity, being read in rich contextual ways as being formed by their times, as being addressed to the issues of their times, and as changing as they were read in later, different times—yet, in honor of my earlier education, still addressing universal human concerns. Historical reading was a pretty obvious move in my classroom; anyone teaching medieval texts must do some considerable historical lifting in order to make these poems and their often quite radical alterity accessible to students. No 21st-century young person comes easily and in an unmediated way to the concepts of eorl-thane warrior relationships, or gift culture in the Germanic and Norse world, or later, to the cultural underpinnings of fin’ amours poetry; it takes some explanation of these historical and cultural contexts to open up these texts for students. And so, I want to report on, and offer to all teachers, on one way I have employed to get students thinking better about Beowulf, a poem so often taught in classical classrooms: engaging with the text’s reception history—that is, the fascinating story of what happened to the text, how people found it, read it, and responded to it—in order to return to the text and engage the students with its important questions all over again.  

And I want to say at the outset that everything I will suggest here about studying the reception of the poem only comes after going through the text in a more traditional way with the students: reading the grand opening and its hymn to Scyld Scefying as a “d cynig; the building of Heorot; about Grendel’s raids; the arrival of Beowulf and his battles with Grendel and his mother; the shift in the poem to fifty winters later and the final, tragic battle with the dragon. We discuss Hrothgar’s dilemma; the strange status of Grendel as a seemingly non-human monster and yet the “kin of Cain”; we discuss Beowulf’s heroism, Unferth’s challenge, Hrothgar’s “sermon” on Pride, the tension between pagan warrior values and the Christian references and allusions that appear quite frequently in the text. We compare and contrast Beowulf’s battle with Grendel with his battle with Grendel’s mother. We talk about the shift in the poem to fifty winters later and his final, tragic, troubling battle with the dragon. At the college level, thanks to Rollin Lasseter, who taught me to do this, we then go back and look at all of the interpolated tales, those songs that the scōps sing and the stories that Beowulf tells, these interruptions of the main action students find so disruptive. We explore the ways that these interpolated tales offer a kind of countermelody to the main plot, woven like a Celtic design into the narrative structure. But the details of that reading—which adds immensely to the power of the poem—is perhaps for another essay. 

So once students are familiar with the main narrative of the poem, I like to show them images of the manuscript, Cotton Vitellius A. XV.4 (I will return to that seemingly strange manuscript designation in a moment). I tell them that it is the only manuscript of Beowulf in existence, and that it was produced—that is, copied down by a scribe—around the year 1000.5  Were there other, earlier manuscripts that are now lost? We just do not know. Of course, copied down is not composing; since the poem was almost assuredly composed orally by an Anglo-Saxon scōp, and we would have no physical evidence for that (only linguistic evidence, evidence of reference to events, etc.), scholars debate vigorously when the poem was composed.  Arguments for dates as early as the 6th century and as late as the time of the manuscript itself—so almost 1000 AD—have been proposed, and an article about a recent gathering of scholars to come to a better conclusion was titled “A Scandal in Toronto” because, in fact, no agreement could be forged.6 In class, this debate takes us back into discussions we have already had about the pagan vs. the Christian elements in the poem, for arguments about when the poem was composed, and by whom, often hinge on one’s attitude to these different elements—when Christianity would have been influential, whether the “Christian coloring,” as the text’s best editor, Klaeber, called it, was added later upon a previously thoroughly pagan text, and more.  History loops back into intention, or at least each scholar’s understanding of history and each scholar’s interpretation of the scōp’s intentions.   

Then I surprise the students, informing them that none of the writers one studies in English literature until well into the 19th century ever knew Beowulf existed, much less were influenced by the poem. The poem simply goes underground, so Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Donne, Herbert… all the way to Swift, Pope, Dr. Johnson, and quite probably most of the Romantic poets, had never heard of this text. None of them. Even if they had known it existed, none of them would have been able to read a text in Anglo-Saxon. So, the poem had no influence at all, zero, on some of the greatest writers in our tradition. It does not take very long for a sharp, somewhat skeptical student to ask, “Then why should we bother with it? If it didn’t matter, why should it matter to us?” A more positive, or less aggressive, version of this might come as:Well, then, when did it suddenly become this poem that all of us have to read?” These are, of course, wonderful questions, getting to questions of literary value and influence, how a literary tradition takes shape, who shapes these traditions and how, canonicity, the interaction of the wider culture with the literary canon, how canons change… the questions are marvelous and interesting, and worth some time exploring with students. And it is by way of showing how this one particular poem, its manuscript, and its reception raise these questions and allow the students ways to become marvelously invested in them such that they return to the text with more fascination, attention, and determination, that I am presenting this material to you.    

First, where was the manuscript hiding all that time? This is a great time to talk to the students about 1066 and All That,7 and how Norman culture quickly supplanted Anglo-Saxon culture in England, at least at the level of the political and cultural elites.8  But to answer the question: we don’t know. We know that in 1563, Chrisopher Nowell signs his name in it, and then at some point it made its way to the library of the greatest antiquarian book collector of the day, Sir Robert Cotton, who lived from 1571-1631. This accounts for the designation of the manuscript: Cotton had placed a bust of a different Roman emperor above each of his bookcases, so this manuscript was on the Vitellius case, on the first (A) shelf, and if you counted 15 books in, you would have found this manuscript.9 The manuscript is a collection that contained not just Beowulf but the Old Testament story of Judith and Holofernes, a life of St. Christopher, and two treatises on geography, The Wonders of the East and Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle. Sir Robert Cotton was an inveterate collector, with the largest library in England and perhaps of Europe; he also owned the Lindisfarne Gospels, two copies of the Magna Carta, and the one and only extant copy of the Sir Gawain manuscript. But it does not seem that anyone was much interested in this particular manuscript or its contents, for no one comments on it for the longest time. In 1705, forty-one lines of Beowulf were transcribed, which was fortuitous if not providential, for when in 1731 a calamitous fire broke out at Ashburnam House, where the Cotton collection was being held in preparation for being transferred to the newly-constituted British Library, many books were lost, and the right edge of the Beowulf manuscript was singed, weakening the vellum so that in later years the edges crumbled alarmingly. Then in 1787, a copyist working for Gunnar Thorkelin—about whom more in a moment—made a transcription of the entire poem (saving many of those right-edge words that were being lost) which became the basis for Thorkelin’s groundbreaking first edition and publication of the poem in 1815. Again, I tell the students, it is worth thinking about this—between 1000 AD and 1815 probably only a tiny handful of humans ever laid eyes on this poem or cared that it existed. 

So why Gunnar Thorkelin? What made him so interested when no one else was, interested enough to edit and publish the manuscript—and with an accompanying Latin translation to boot? He was a native of Iceland, land of the great sagas, but he was working for the government of Denmark at the time, tasked with finding old Danish texts in an attempt to recover the earlier work of Danes. He was looking to recover the cultural history of Denmark.  When he came upon this text about Scyldings and Geats, he was convinced it was originally a Danish poem that somehow survived in Anglo-Saxon, and he wanted to claim it for his employers. His work was a part of the larger movement of a kind of Romantic nationalism that might be more familiar to us later in 19th-century in classical music, with Wagner promoting the German ring cycle, Chopin trumpeting his beloved Poland (while living in France), later, Mussorgsky and others returning to Russian folk dances and music, and Dvorak writing out of his Czech heritage (part of that time, while living among Czech immigrants in Iowa; thus his symphony “From the New World”). Thorkelin thought he had recovered an early Danish poem, and thus an early text of his employers’ culture. But what happened was that English scholars had their own designs on recovering a cultural past for the surging British empire, and claiming the text as their own—clearly part of a Tory reaction against the French Revolution and war with France—they moved in. In a both defensive and newly-assertive Britain, there was a desire to keep up with the Joneses on the continent: the Germans had their Niebelungenlied, the French their Chanson de Roland. More importantly, the Greeks and Romans, the ancient cultural apogee, had their epics; therefore, England needed one as well. All respectable, culturally elite nations had an epic, and Thorkelin had handed them one, an origin story plucked out of their own history and conveniently in their own language—even better, in a way, in an archaic version of that language, only accessible through laborious study, just like ancient Greek and Latin, so it provided the necessary elitism to those who studied it.10 And this is what happened: once Thorkelin published his edition, the English scholars claimed it, immediately improving upon his version and pouring over the text in a scholarly fashion. Over the course of the 19th century, it was re-edited and published several more times, and translations began to appear.11 England had its epic, its origin story, and could hold its head up among its neighbors as a proper, grand empire, the cultural equal of France and Germany and even Rome and Greece. 

Once editions were available, the scholarly work, interestingly, borrowed its methods from the new historical-critical Biblical methods of the time. Mimicking those who found the Yahwist, Eloist, Priestly, and Deuteronomical traditions in the Torah, scholars dug into the text of Beowulf like archaeologists, finding different traditions and layers of the text.12 The poem is, on the surface, quite amenable to such methods, for, as I mentioned above, it does seem to have different stories seemingly clunkily woven into the main narrative line of Beowulf’s three battles. Every time a scōp sings, or Beowulf begins to tell a story, we get one of these diversions—the Fight at Finnsburgh, the Battle of Ravenswood, Beowulf’s imagining a future wedding feast—the very things that drive students mad on a first reading of the poem, as they just want to get back to ripping the arms off of, or plunging swords into, the monsters. What came to be called “the interpolated stories” were, under the Biblical historical-critical method’s influence, ipso facto evidence that what we had here was not one poem, but a set of layers in an archaeological dig, with shards thrown up from time to time for our attention. As a result, the poem was at the time read not so much as a poem, but as a fascinating site for exploring these shards, pieces of pots, and implements of a lost culture. The unity of the poem was never on the table; to this scholarly tradition, clearly Beowulf was just a mishmash of different sagas and stories somewhat clumsily thrown together over the years, and copied down at some point in the history of melding all of this together.13 Meanwhile, the poem was starting to make its way out into more popular knowledge, and by the end of the century had joined the canon. In 1885, Thomas W. Hunt, President of Princeton, argued at an MLA conference that Anglo-Saxon and English literature should take the place of study of Greek and Latin.14 Clearly this was a turn to claiming America’s own Anglo-Saxon heritage; clearly it was time to make this Germanic, Anglo-Saxon turn; I would argue this was part of a Tacitean move away from those namby-pamby Greeks to the more vigorous, hearty, healthy, Germanic Anglo-Saxons, and to English models, for high school and university students.   

The great shift in criticism of Beowulf, as some may know, came at the hands of none other than J.R.R. Tolkien, who in 1936 in “The Monsters and the Critics” completely re-shaped the way everyone read the poem. He had completed a translation of the poem back in 1926, but never published it (it was published by his son after his death), and he had long been a great student of the poem, as every reader of The Lord of the Rings knows. Tolkien’s claim was that the 19th century tradition was shortchanging the poem because it was not reading it as a poem: as a deliberate, purposefully-crafted, intentional, coherent, whole vision: “Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art” (52).  He later renders this allegorically: “But the fairy godmother later invited to superintend its [the poem’s] fortunes was Historia. And she brought with her Philologia, Mythologia, Archaeologia, and Laographia. Excellent ladies. But where is the child’s namesake? Poesis was usually forgotten; occasionally admitted by a side door; sometimes dismissed upon the doorstep (52-53).15 In a striking way he mirrored what the New Critics 4000 miles away in Nashville were saying (though I do not know if he knew their work, he might have been influenced by I.A. Richards’ similar ideas in England): that one should read a poem as a coherent unity fashioned by a poet. For Tolkien, tearing the poem apart to find its layers misses the point; what we have, he said, is a poet who took all of that material and molded it into a single, unified presentation of the questions and themes and meanings he wanted to present.   

In a way that rarely happens this immediately and decisively in literary criticism, Tolkien’s reading completely changed Beowulf criticism, and criticism of the poem has never gone back. After Tolkien, everyone reads the poem as a poem; everyone assumes and engages with a poet-scōp-creator who crafts a vision out of traditional materials that he has meditated upon deeply and then incorporates them into a whole. They might argue about and disagree over the texture and meaning of that whole, and engage in different ways with the Christian references, the interpolated stories, and as I will show, the final words of the poem—but they do so with the view that it is a poem, not an archaeological artifact with strata of different historical layers no one maker ever put there intentionally. Students, by the way, are very interested in Tolkien’s intervention, not just because of their interest in The Lord of the Rings, but because his claim makes sense to them, and offers a kind of understanding of what they are trying to do, and why they found the poem at times frustrating as their eyes glaze over yet another of the interpolated narratives. Their questions– what is all this extra stuff doing here, and why do I have to read it? What does it have to do with anything?—are based, they realize, in a theory that suggests that poems should be artistic wholes, that poets should not put extraneous material as “filler”, especially in a poem that we are calling “great.” (That, of course, is why a sophisticated reading of the poem cannot skip over the interpolated stories, and when the students are accomplished, mature, and able to do so, I make sure we confront them.) 

I am skipping a good bit—the next few decades of excellent scholars engaging with and filling out Tolkien’s insight.16 But the next big shift in reception of the poem comes largely at the hands of John Gardner, who in 1971 publishes Grendel.17 Gardner’s novel, once quite popular and sometimes still read in schools in tandem with Beowulf, is a first-person narrative from the point of view of Beowulf’s first monstrous opponent, and thereby covers all of the monster’s life up to, but of course not after, his climactic battle with the original poem’s hero.  We are drawn for the first time into sympathy with the monster as a thinking, feeling, tortured human. Grendel is at first drawn to the beauty of the scōp’s (which he calls the Shaper’s) song: “I listened, felt myself swept up. I knew very well that all he said was ridiculous, not light for their darkness but flattery, illusion, a vortex pulling them from sunlight to heat… Yet I was swept up… My heart was light with Hrothgar’s goodness, and leaden with grief at my own blood-thirsty ways” (40-41). Out of his wonder at the scop’s song, he staggers into the Heorot gathering groaning out “Mercy!” and calling to them as “Friend” but when he is rejected and driven off by the terrified Scyldings, he turns to and visits the dragon—already in his lair—who fills Grendel with a great deal of (largely) existentialist philosophy that empties the world of meaning and turns Grendel into a tormented killer:  

The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order. The universe refuses the deadening influence of complete conformity. And yet in its refusal, it passes toward novel order as primary requisite for important experience. We have to explain the aim at forms of order, and the aim at novelty of order, and the measure of success, and the measure of failure. Apart from some understanding, however dim-witted, of these characteristics of historic process… His voice trailed off. (58)   

In this vein, the heroic itself gets critiqued: Grendel sees Hrothgar, Unferth, and the rest of the humans as merely interested in power and self-preservation, their heroic boasts pathetic and tawdry; Gardner allows Grendel to spy on Hrothgar’s warring on other tribes and clearly inflects this through a kind of cynical Vietnam experience, for Hrothgar’s imperialist ambitions and successes ultimately only gain him more anxiety and unease: his nephew Hrothulf clearly seeks to kill Hrothgar’s sons, and his beautiful, much younger wife, Wealtheow, a war prize extracted from a weaker neighboring mead hall, gives him no pleasure because she only attracts potential threats from outside. Hrothgar withers away not so much from Grendel’s violence as from the exhaustion of managing the realpolitik of the situation his own success has created. The Norse gods and Danish religious life are, Grendel reveals, barely believed in by their own priests, and are completely ineffective. When Beowulf arrives, Grendel immediately sees the threat, but goes to what he senses is his doom with a kind of existentialist fatalism, and nothing more.18 

This reading, as one might imagine, turns a great deal of the poem on its head, and brought the text to new readers eager in the 1970s to upend the values of the poem. Now, as Robert Merrill pointed out as far back as 1984, and as my wonderful undergraduate student, Margaret Baglow, could see with Merrill’s help last semester, but which seemingly few who read or teach the novel seem to realize, is that Gardner does not share Grendel’s existential nihilism; properly read, the novel is a kind of via negativa showing the dead end of such nihilism, and giving us plenty of hints that Gardner asserts the reality of the true, the good, and the beautiful.19  In the final battle, as Beowulf smashes Grendel’s head against the wall, he whispers to the monster, forcing him to admit the wall exists: feel the wall: is it not hard? (150). And just before that, Beowulf asserts the goodness and power of nature: “though you murder the world… strong searching roots will crack your cave and rain will cleanse it: The world will burn green, sperm build again(149) [italics in the original]. Gardner leads us through the horrors of the dragon’s influence only to have the original poem’s hero conquer the nihilism that poisoned what we now think of as a sad, pathetic Grendel. But such was the state of readers, and the power of seeing things in this new way from the monster’s point of view, that it seems few read through to Gardner’s unifying vision for his book, and took it as sympathizing (in both the standard and Boothean sense) with monster and dragon. (That, at least, is what most students who come to me having read the book in high school take away from their instruction.)   

Misreadings of Gardner’s Grendel did affect scholarly-critical readings somewhat, but not too greatly; one finds more sympathy for the monsters and the anti-heroic after this point, but this could be a result of many factors in criticism of the time. The book did definitely help the poem emerge into popular culture, and when it did, it tended to do so inflected by this new misreading, with its skepticism, existentialism, cynicism, and angle of sympathy for the monstrous. Beowulf began to make its way into comic books,20 and by the turn of the millennium, into several films, all of them, in one way or another, inflected by this anti-heroic ethos.21 The culmination, or one might say nadir, of all of this popular influence comes in the 2007 Robert Zemeckis travesty Beowulf, a motion-capture mess that stars Ray Winstone as Beowulf, Robin Wright as Wealtheow, and, as Grendel’s mother, a completely gold Angelina Jolie in high heels and pointy tail, CGI effects giving her shapelier hips. In this version, there is no heroism, or rather, heroism is a lie men tell to cover what they really want, which is pleasurable sex, wealth, and power. You see, when Beowulf swims down to kill Grendel’s mother in her lair, Angelina Jolie22 seduces him, telling him that if he will sleep with her, she will give him all the power and wealth he wants. When Beowulf returns to Heorot, lying that he killed Grendel’s mother, his eyes meet Hrothgar’s, and we understand that Hrothgar made a similar pact with her years before, and that Grendel was the product of that union.23 This lie, and Grendel’s mother’s mysterious power, allows Beowulf his victory, his fame, and his political success, for fifty winters—not his physical strength, his heroism, his political acumen, his virtue. At the end of the poem, after the requisite Hollywood fight scene ends in killing the dragon and Beowulf’s death, Wiglaf stands in the sea, and a naked Grendel’s mother emerges sexily from the water, and as their eyes meet, we see that Wiglaf will similarly think with the wrong part of his anatomy and the cycle will continue. It is a breathtakingly cynical view of honor and heroism, annoying and disgusting all at once, and the only thing that rescues any of it is that the film bombed upon its release;24 one hopes and trusts that audiences were as appalled by its message as by the creepy motion-capture technique by which Zemeckis ruined Chris Van Allsberg’s The Polar Express for a generation of children.   

What does all of this have to do with the students? Well, I find that, once presented with this history, and especially the recent adaptations, students are completely invested, and in a newly powerful way, in the poem as they read it the first time: as poem deeply concerned with and approving of the heroic, even if, as many readers think, its Christian elements provide a careful critique of the warrior epic. I return to the poem by looking at the final words it gives us, as it attempts to sum up Beowulf’s life:  

They said that he was of all kings of the world 

the mildest of men, and the most gentle, 

the kindest to his folk, and the most eager for fame. (trans. Liuzza) 

 

The last word of the poem is “lofgeornost”, most eager for fame (lof = fame, renown) and has long been a crux in the criticism. Are we to read that word “straight” or ironically? That is, is it, has it been for Beowulf and the Geats a good thing or a bad thing that the hero was “eager for fame”? Students often struggle with Beowulf’s last battle, which the hero himself knows will be his last, and whether it is a fulfillment of his warrior-hero life, or an imprudent, futile gesture.  The keening women know clearly, as they sing over his grave, that the enemies of the Geats are now coming, and will surely destroy their community, now that Beowulf is dead: 

With heavy spirits 

they mourned their despair, the death of their lord; 

and a sorrowful song sang the Geatish woman, 

with hair bound up, for Beowulf the king, 

with sad cares, earnestly said 

that she dreaded the hard days ahead, 

the times of slaughter, the host’s terror, 

harm and captivity. Heaven swallowed the smoke. (trans. Liuzza, 3148-3155) 

 

Nowhere in these final moments does anyone mention another leader, not even Wiglaf, able to step forward and fill the void left by Beowulf’s death. My point here is not to solve the crux created by “lofgeornost—I have a reading that, I believe, does that, and it includes a reading of those interpolated tales, which I present to the students, but it would take some time to unpack—but to suggest that, by learning the reception history of the poem, students are now invested in this one, final word as never before. They are not interested in a reading that will agree with Zemeckis and his cynical attitude toward heroism and honor, and yet they do see the costs of such a system of warrior values, even shorn of the cynicism that Gardner may have unwittingly begun, and which found its apotheosis in Hollywood’s posturings. They want to read the poem, and they want to read it in important ways, ways that will preserve the good of honor and virtue, and which will allow them to interrogate honor and virtue, and texts that explore them, carefully, historically, ethically, and morally. They have a system of understanding that takes those virtues seriously, and they have a theory of poetry that a great work should reach a unified understanding of how it presents those questions, those issues, those values. And if I can do that, if by working through history and reception I can have the students return to the text with real engagement—if I can get the students to that point of understanding, interrogation, and investment in truth, honor, and virtue—I believe I am leading my students to a liberal education.25 

Works Cited 

Abbott, H. Porter. The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2nd edition.  Cambridge UP, 2008.   

Baglow, Margaret.  “The Blurred Lines Between Good and Evil in Beowulf and Grendel.  Essay submitted for ENG 3323, Medieval Literature, The University of Dallas, December 10, 2019. 

Beowulf.  Dir. Graham Baker.  Dimension Films, 1999. 

Beowulf.  Dir. Robert Zemeckis.  Paramount Pictures, 2007. 

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation.  Trans. R.M. Liuzza. Broadview, 2000. 

“Beowulf.”  Bomb Report. bombreport.com/yearly-breakdowns/2007-2/beowulf/ 

Beowulf: Dragon Slayer.  DC Comics, 1975-76. 

Bessinger, Jess B. and Robert F. Yeager. Approaches to Teaching Beowulf.  Modern Language Assn, 1984. 

Bloom, Harold. Beowulf: Modern Critical Interpretations. Chelsea, 2007. 

Booth, Wayne.  The Rhetoric of Fiction. 2nd Edition.  U Chicago P, 1983. 

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren.  Understanding Poetry4th Edition.  Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1976. 

Frank, Roberta. “A Scandal in Toronto: The Dating of Beowulf A Quarter Century On,” Speculum, Vol 82, No. 4 (Oct 2007), 843-864. 

Gardner, John. Grendel. Ballantine Books, 1971. 

Haydock, Nicholas, and E.L. Risden. Beowulf on Film: Adaptations and Variations. McFarland, 2013. 

Hunt, Th. W. “The Place of English in the College Curriculum,” Modern Language Association of America Proceedings (1885): xii-xviii. 

Merrill, Robert. “John Gardner’s Grendel and the Interpretation of Modern Fables,” American Literature, vol 56, no 2, 1984, 162-180.   

Nicholson, Lewis E.  An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism.  U Notre Dame P, 1963.  

Sellar, W.C. and R.J. Yeatman. 1066 And All That.  Methuen, 2010. 

The 13th Warrior.  Dir. John McTiernan.  Buena Vista Pictures, 1999. 

Tolkien, J.R.R. “The Monsters and the Critics,” in An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism, ed. Lewis E. Nicholson, U Notre Dame Press, 1963, 51-104. 

 

© Retained by author and Institute for Classical Education 2020 

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