Beowulf, a review

Beowulf is an Old English classic that has been translated by many over the years, and I read a translation by Maria Dahvana Headley. In this she states she tries to have the power of a mother come through, rather than being downplayed, and in my opinion she also targets this towards a modern audience more than I’ve heard other translations do.

The first thing that will hit you about this translation is it’s use of “Bro”. As someone who is used to classics sounding stiff and formal, this was definitely not expected and I won’t lie, it took me a little time to get used to. But once I did I found that I really enjoyed this. Given that these tales used to be told around the campfire by people whose job it was to tell stories, this is most likely close to how they would’ve been using language themselves! Don’t get me wrong, there are more formal sounding parts too, but these are supposed to contrast with the lighter tones. I thought it was a really interesting and modern way to convey this in the text.

This was especially interesting for me to read after reading The Boneless Mercies (a Beowulf retelling) and seeing the parallels and differences present in the text. I definitely think I need to reread Boneless now! I also just really enjoyed the story itself. I can see why it lasted through the ages being told around campfires!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 7, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 6, Enjoyment: 7, which gives a score of 6.86 and a 3.5* rating!

I’m so glad that I ended up reading this translation (thank you so much Kari for the gift!) so this will definitely be bumped up to 4* on my Goodreads rating. It’s, imo, a great translation of a classic that makes it a lot more accessible for more readers!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, gore, cursing, blood, murder.

Have you ever read a Beowulf translation? Would you? I’m so glad that I delved in.

The Art of War, a review

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a longstanding classic. I think it’s the oldest book I’ve ever read. It was first published in the realm of 500BC in Chinese and is still being read by businessmen (and me!).

I actually added this to my wishlist because it’s a book my partner enjoyed, and Kari from Kar-ing for Books was kind enough to give it to me for Christmas!

The Art of War is a very short book that discusses tactics of war for utilisation in 500BC, but that some modern readers have adjusted to work in the present day. It’s laid out essentially in bullet points, and this therefore makes it easy to distinguish the sections and to read through.

For my first read through of this, I was simply doing that. Reading through it. I’ve heard people say that you should read this slowly, sit with it, really think about each point made. Because of this I plan to go back to the book and spend time with it.

Right now, with just a passing read, I found this to be quite vague when applying it to the modern world. It’s written specifically for ancient Chinese warfare and when you try to turn these statements into metaphors they come across as quite generic and don’t give much to go off of. I think that actually studying the text and putting more time into it could give some more insights.

On CAWPILE I rated this book: Credibility/Research: 7, Authenticity/Uniqueness: 6, Writing/Readability: 7, Personal Impact: 5, Intrigue: 5, Logic/Informativeness: 6, and Enjoyment: 5 which gives an overall score of 5.86 which is a 3.5*.

I did still get something out of this in the way I read it, but I think a reread in my future could add a lot of meaning into this for me. Thankfully it’s short so it wont take the rest of my life! 🤣