Beowulf -the heroic epic, which was composed in verse in Old English around the 6th or 7th century AD and is preserved in an ancient and unique manuscript of the early 11th century, has the same value for the English as the Homeric Epics have for the Greeks. It recounts the exploits of the hero Beowulf, who, in his quest for fame and recognition, faces terrible monsters of primeval chaos in a story that mixes elements of myth, legend and the history of Northern Europe. J.R.R. Tolkien, himself a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, has translated the epic into prose form, combining his academic knowledge and experience with his writing skill in a text that reveals in all its glory a world lost in the mists of myth and history. Along with the translation, the book includes the professor’s detailed commentary and analyses on the content of the epic, as well as the Sellic Spell, his own rendition of Beowulf in the form of a fairy tale.
Through Beowulf’s text and J.R.R. Tolkien’s notes, a forgotten world is revealed that profoundly influenced the professor’s own later works and became the original form of modern Western Europe.