Analysis of 2 Translations of Beowulf

Topics: Beowulf, Poetry, Fiction Pages: 2 (653 words) Published: November 20, 2012
Grendel’s Description Comparative Analysis
Beowulf is a great piece of Anglo-Saxon literature that can be, and has been, translated in multiple ways. Of the many outstanding translations, two of which are by Burton Raffel and Seamus Heaney, different ways of writing are portrayed. Grendel’s description is written quite differently in both translations. Heaney’s translation is more similar to the Anglo-Saxon style of writing than Raffel’s translation.

In Heaney’s translation, he uses a kenning to describe the Danes whereas Raffel uses simple wording to get the same story across. Heaney calls The Danish people “Ring-Danes” to get his translation to be closer to the Anglo-Saxon’s style of literature. This use of a kenning causes the reader to be more familiarized and to better understand how the story was originally written or, rather, originally composed. Raffel, on the other hand, plainly calls the Danes “warriors” to make the passage clear and easy to read. By translating Beowulf this way, Raffel is simplifying the writing and turning it into a more modern style of writing by not using kennings, therefore, taking away from the original story’s metaphorical aspect and straying way from the Anglo-Saxon style of literature but making it more understandable to the less than advanced reader.

Another way Heaney nears the Anglo-Saxon style of writing and Raffel digresses from it is the use of poetry and poetic devices in the translations. Heaney uses alliteration in nearly every line of his translation. For example, in line twenty five, “blundering back with the butchered corpses,” repeats the letter “B” three times. He translated Beowulf by making sure the same meaning is transferred into the new language, (English), and also made sure that the writing’s style was also transferred. This makes even the translation sound like a poem that can be sung just as Beowulf would have been many years ago. Raffel, on the contrary, does not use alliteration or other poetic...
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